On Wednesday, August 4, Arianespace orbited the NILESAT 201 direct broadcast satellite for the Egyptian operator Nilesat, and the RASCOM-QAF1R communications satellite for the pan-African operator RascomStar-QAF. Both satellites were built by Thales Alenia Space.

52nd Ariane 5 launch, 38th success in a row

This latest successful launch of Ariane 5, the third in 2010, once again proves the launcher’s operational capabilities. Ariane 5 is the only commercial satellite launcher now on the market capable of simultaneously launching two payloads and handling a complete range of missions, from commercial launches into geostationary orbit to scientific satellites boosted into special orbits. The 52nd launch of an Ariane 5, and the 38th successful mission in a row, clearly confirms the launcher’s reliability and availability. Arianespace’s launch Service & Solutions continue to set the global standard and guarantee independent access to space for all customers, including national and international space agencies, private firms and governments.

With this evening’s mission, Arianespace has now orbited six out of eleven commercial communications satellites launched worldwide since the beginning of the year, or more than half of the total. At the same time, Arianespace has signed nine new launch contracts for geostationary satellites to be orbited by Ariane 5, and five contracts for dedicated Soyuz launches, a new record.

A launch for Africa and the Middle East

Arianespace has developed a close relationship with Nilesat over the last dozen years. NILESAT 201 was the third satellite launched by Arianespace for this operator, following NILESAT 101 and NILESAT 102, launched in 1998 and 2000, respectively.

This will be Arianespace’s second launch for the pan-African operator RascomStar-QAF, following the operator’s first satellite, RASCOM-QAF1, launched in December 2007.

NILESAT 201/RASCOM-QAF1R mission at a glance

NILESAT 201, based on a Spacebus 4000B2 platform, weighed nearly 3,200 kg at launch. Fitted with 24 Ku-band and four Ka-band transponders, it will provide broadband direct-to-home (DTH) television broadcast services to North Africa and the Middle East. It will be positioned at 7 degrees West and offers a design life exceeding 15 years.

RASCOM-QAF1R, based on a Spacebus 4000B3 platform, is a high-power satellite equipped with 12 Ku-band and eight C-band transponders. It weighed 3,050 kg at launch, and will offer end-of-life power of 6.6 kW. Positioned at 2.85 degrees East, its footprint will cover the entire African continent, as well as parts of Europe and the Middle East, with a design life of 15 years. It will provide communications services in rural parts of Africa, including long-distance domestic and international links, direct TV broadcasts and Internet access.

NILESAT 201 and RASCOM-QAF1R were built by Thales Alenia Space.