Ariane 5 Rocket Launches Yahsat 1A, Intelsat New Dawn

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A European Ariane 5 ECA rocket on April 22 successfully placed telecommunications satellites for the United Arab Emirates and an Intelsat partnership in Africa into geostationary transfer orbit. Both satellites were reported healthy in orbit by their manufacturers.

It was the second of six Ariane 5 launches planned for 2011 by the Arianespace launch services consortium, which also has scheduled three commercial launches of Russia’s medium-lift Soyuz rocket from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan this year. These flights are to carry a total of 18 Globalstar mobile communications satellites into low Earth orbit.

Arianespace also is scheduled to take over operations of a Europeanized Soyuz, and the new Vega small-satellite launcher, when these two new rockets enter service with inaugural flights scheduled this fall from Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport.

The April 22 flight placed the Yahsat 1A C-, Ku- and Ka-band telecommunications satellite into a transfer orbit from where it will migrate to its operating position at 52.5 degrees east. Abu Dhabi-based Yahsat, a startup operator, has planned a mixed government-commercial mission for its two Yahsat spacecraft, the second of which is scheduled for launch late in 2011 or early in 2012.

Yahsat 1A weighed 5,935 kilograms at launch. It carries eight C-band transponders at 36 megahertz each, six C-band transponders at 54 megahertz each, and 25 33-megahertz Ku-band transponders in addition to a Ka-band payload reserved for government and military use. Built by Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space of Europe, Yahsat 1A is designed to provide 11.6 kilowatts of power to its payload at the end of its 15-year life.

The Intelsat New Dawn satellite, built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., weighed 3,000 kilograms at launch and is designed to deliver 5 kilowatts of power to its payload of 16 Ku- and 14 C-band transponders. It will be operated by Luxembourg- and Washington-based Intelsat at 32.8 degrees east on behalf of a joint venture between Intelsat and Convergence Partners of South Africa.

“The satellite will not only deliver crucial services specifically tailored for Africa, it will also herald the dawn of a new era where Africans enjoy far greater involvement in the space communications industry,” Convergence Partners Chairman Andile Ngcaba said in an April 22 statement.