Ariane 5 VA238 Arianespace Inmarsat ISRO Hellas Sat
Arianespace's VA238 launch on June 28 was the first mission whose schedule was not offset by civil unrest in French Guiana during the months of March and April. Credit: Arianespace video screen capture.

WASHINGTON — European launch provider Arianespace carried three customer payloads to orbit June 28 through the launch of two satellites, one for India and another that is split between fleet operators Inmarsat and Hellas Sat.

The Ariane 5 mission, designated VA238, lifted off at 5:15 p.m. EDT from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, deploying the 5,800-kilogram Hellas Sat-3/ Inmarsat S EAN “condosat” first. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s 3,500-kilogram GSAT-17 satellite deployed second from the rocket’s lower berth.

The launch was Arianespace’s fourth mission in eight weeks.

European Aviation Network

The launch secures the spacecraft-half of Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network, a hybrid system of S-band satellite and terrestrial air-to-ground connectivity for aircraft flying over the Europe. Thales Alenia Space built the satellite (including the Ku-/Ka-band Hellas Sat payload) and Deutsche Telekom is building 300 terrestrial towers across continental Europe.

In a prerecorded video broadcast with the launch, Inmarsat Chief Executive Rupert Pearce said the operator has secured authorization from the European Union, Norway and Switzerland for the mobile satellite service, and that “27 countries have to date provided us with authorizations or in-principle approvals for the complementary ground component.” Inmarsat anticipates providing the EAN service later this year.

Hellas Sat

Hellas Sat’s half of the satellite, Hellas Sat-3, is designed for broadcast and connectivity services across Europe, the Middle East and the Southern African Development Community countries. Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat, which owns Hellas Sat, purchased the satellite payload for the company. Arabsat purchased another satellite, Hellas Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1, from Lockheed Martin in April 2015, and contracted Arianespace to provide an Ariane 5 launch.


The Indian Space Research Organisation’s  GSAT-17 will provide both fixed satellite services in C- and extended C-band, and mobile satellite services in S-band. The satellite also has an ultra-high frequency payload for data transmission and search and rescue services over India, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia. GSAT-17 has a 15-year life expectancy, a five year increase over the GSAT-19 satellite ISRO launched June 5 aboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle featuring the nation’s first domestically-produced cryogenic upper stage engine.

Caleb Henry is a former SpaceNews staff writer covering satellites, telecom and launch. He previously worked for Via Satellite and NewSpace Global.He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science along with a minor in astronomy from...