KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Europe’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket on Oct. 5 successfully placed telecommunications satellites for Australia and India into geostationary-transfer orbit.
Both satellites were reported healthy in orbit by their builders.
Operating from the Guiana Space Center, a French overseas department on the northeast cost of South America, the Ariane 5 vehicle posted its 74th consecutive success, equaling the record of its predecessor, Ariane 4, which was retired in 2003.
The Ariane 5’s own successor, Ariane 6, recently won full development approval from European Space Agency governments and is scheduled to perform is inaugural flight in 2020 from is own launch pad, now under construction. Under current thinking, Ariane 5 would continue to operate alongside Ariane 6 for three years before being retired.
The Oct. 5 flight, the fifth of 2016 for Ariane 5, carried the Sky Muster 2 Ka-band consumer broadband satellite, to be operated by Australia’s NBN Co. as part of the nation’s national broadband rollout. The broadband program, including cable, terrestrial wireless and satellite delivery platforms, remains the most thorough, and the most expensive, of any national broadband deployment program.
Sky Muster 2, weighing 6,404 kilograms at launch, is the second of two Sky Muster satellites, both built by Space Systems Loral of Palo Alto, California. The first was launched in September 2015.
The two satellites are designed to deliver a combined 135 gigabits per second of throughput throughout Australian territory to users in locations specially designated for satellite service. Each delivers 16.4 kilowatts of power to its payload.
Occupying the Ariane 5 rocket’s upper berth as the heavier of the two passengers, Sky Muster 2 was released into orbit and was reported healthy and sending signals by Space Systems Loral.
India’s GSat-18, in Ariane 5’s lower berth, is an Indian Space Research Organization I-3K model. Weighing 3,404 kilograms at launch, GSat-18 carries 48 C-, extended-C and Ku-band transponders. It is designed to operate for 15 years from 74 degrees east in geostationary orbit. It can generate 6.5 kilowatts of power to its payload.