Ariane 5 rocket launches satellites for EchoStar and Indonesia’s BRI bank

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PARIS – A European Ariane 5 ECA rocket on June 18 successfully placed commercial telecommunications satellites for Dish Network of the United States and BRI bank of Indonesia into geostationary transfer orbit.

The two satellites, both built by Space Systems Loral of Palo Alto, California, were reported healthy in orbit after separation from the rocket.

Operating from Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport on the northeast coast of South America, the Ariane 5 vehicle completed its third mission for 2016 and its 72nd consecutive success.

The launch represented a new record for lift performance for Ariane 5 to geostationary transfer orbit. The combined weight of 9,503 kilograms — the 6,300-kilogram EchoStar 18 direct-broadcast television satellite and the BRIsat telecommunications satellite for BRI Bank of Indonesia, which weighed 3,540 kilograms — is 337 kilograms more than the previous record, set in February 2013.

Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel said after the launch that the company’s industrial team, led by Airbus Safran Launchers, has raised the ceiling on Ariane 5 ECA perfromance by 1,400 kilograms in the past 15 years, with another 300 kilograms in performance increase to be introduced by 2018.

The launch represented another first in launching a commercial satellite for a bank. BRI bank of Jakarta, Indonesia, will use BRIsat’s 36 C-band and 9 Ku-band transponders to provide services to its 10,600 branches throughout Indonesia. The satellite will be operated from 150.5 degrees east longitude. It will cover Indonesia, Souteast Asia and Northeast Asia.

The Indonesian archipelago of 17,500 islands is a natural market for satellite telecommunications and has been the object of attention of many of the world’s satellite builders and established fleet operators, all trying to establish a position in the Indonesian market.

BRIsat was built by Space Systems Loral of Palo Alto, California, as was the EchoStar 18, which Dish Network of Englewood, Colorado, will use to augment its North American direct-broadcast television service. It was EchoStar Corp., Dish Network’s sister company – both are owned by Charlie Ergen – that ordered the satellite and is the customer for the launch.

EchoStar has declined to disclose the specific transponder count on EchoStar 18, but one official said it had 61 transponders. The satellite has more than 100 spot beams and will operate from 110 degrees west longitude.