On 4 May 2007, an Ariane 5 ECA launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two satellites into geostationary transfer orbits. Lift-off of flight V176 took place at 22:29 GMT/UTC (19:29 local time, 00:29 [5 May] CET/Paris). The satellites were accurately injected into the correct transfer orbits about 30 minutes later.

The payload comprised Astra 1L, a Ku- and Ka-band broadcast services satellite intended for direct-to-home transmissions over continental Europe, and Galaxy 17, a C- and Ku-band television and telephony services satellite that will serve North America. The payload mass was 9402 kg; the satellite masses totalled 8605 kg, with payload adapters and dispensers making up the additional 797 kg. This is a new record for Ariane 5 ECA

This second launch of the year keeps Arianespace and Europe’s Spaceport on target to perform six Ariane 5 launches in 2007 as they head towards their target of seven to eight missions per year from 2009.  

Flight timeline

The Ariane 5’s cryogenic, liquid fuelled, main engine was ignited first. Seven seconds later, the solid fuel rocket boosters were also fired, and a fraction of a second after that, the launch vehicle lifted off.

The solid boosters were jettisoned 2min:20sec after main engine ignition, and the fairing protecting the payload during the climb through the Earth’s atmosphere was discarded at 3min:11sec. The launcher’s main engine was shut down at 8min:57sec; six seconds later the main cryogenic stage separated from the upper stage and its payload.

Four seconds after main stage separation, the engine of the launcher’s cryogenic upper stage was ignited to continue the journey. The upper stage engine was shut down at 24min:58sec into the flight, at which point the launch vehicle was travelling at 9878 metres per second (35 560 km/h) at an altitude of 622.6 kilometres and the conditions for geostationary transfer orbit injection had been achieved.

At 27min:15 sec after main engine ignition, Astra 1L separated from the launcher, followed by Galaxy 17 at 32min:54sec.

Ariane 5 ECA

Ariane 5 ECA is the latest version of the Ariane 5 launcher. It is designed to place payloads weighing up to 9.6 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit. With its increased capacity Ariane 5 ECA can handle dual launches of very large satellites.