Assembly of the Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s year-opening mission from French Guiana is now complete, following encapsulation of the Intelsat 29e satellite in its protective payload fairing at the Spaceport.

This activity occurred in the upper levels of the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building for Ariane 5, where the heavy-lift workhorse vehicle is now undergoing final checkout before being transferred to the ELA-3 launch zone.

The Ariane 5’s liftoff is scheduled for January 27 during a nighttime launch window that opens at 8:20 p.m. local time in French Guiana and continues until 9:40 p.m. (UTC: 11:20 p.m. on January 27 to 00:40 a.m. on January 28).

With the 6,550-kg. Intelsat 29e as its solo payload for this mission to geostationary transfer orbit, Ariane 5 will once again be at the service of global telecommunications operator Intelsat – which is Arianespace’s no. 1 commercial customer for launch services using the heavy-lift vehicle.

— A Fruitful 30-Year Relationship Of Arianespace And Intelsat —

Arianespace’s relationship with Intelsat spans more than 30 years, with the upcoming mission carrying the 56th satellite lofted during this time. To underscore the results of this partnership, half of the Intelsat satellite fleet now in operation was orbited by Arianespace.

The Boeing-built Intelsat 29e payload is Intelsat’s initial next-generation high-throughput EpicNG-series satellite. It will provide high-throughput Ku-band spot beams over the Americas to meet broadband demand for carrier-grade telecommunications and enterprise connectivity, as well as Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean coverage for highly-used aviation and shipping routes.

A transatlantic Ku-band wide beam overlay provides efficient broadcast capabilities for in-flight entertainment aboard aircraft, while the C-band beam is to deliver full South American continent coverage for media distribution.

Arianespace’s launch with Intelsat 29e is designated Flight VA228 in the company’s launcher family numbering system, signifying the 228th Ariane liftoff since this series of European vehicles entered service in 1979.

— More Intelsat Satellites Slated For Launch By Arianespace —

In addition to Intelsat 29e, three other Intelsat satellites currently are in Arianespace’s launch manifest: two more of the EpicNG series, and the Intelsat 36 relay platform. Intelsat’s second EpicNG satellite (named Intelsat 33e), along with the Intelsat 36 payload, are scheduled for launch by Arianespace in 2016.

With its January 27 startup of 2016 launches, Arianespace has set the objective of performing up to 11 flights this year – including as many as eight by Ariane 5, which would be a new all-time record. These flights will utilize all members of Arianespace’s launch vehicle family: the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and light-lift Vega, which operate side-by-side at the Spaceport in French Guiana.