Arianespace Launches 2 Sats, Signs Contracts

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PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA rocket successfully launched telecommunications satellites for Nilesat of Egypt and Rascom of Mauritius Aug. 4 in the third of a likely six Ariane 5 missions in 2010 and the vehicle’s 38th consecutive success, Arianespace and the satellites’ prime contractor announced.

Evry, France-based Arianespace announced separately that it had won contracts to launch Intelsat’s IS-20 and India’s Gsat-10 telecommunications satellites, both in mid-2012.

IS-20, a Space Systems/Loral-built spacecraft expected to weigh 5,800 kilograms at launch, will replace Luxembourg- and Washington-based Intelsat’s IS-10 and IS-7 satellites and operate at 68.5 degrees east. Gsat-10, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will carry 12 Ku-, 12 C- and 12 extended-C-band transponders. It is expected to weigh 3,425 kilograms at launch and to operate at 83 degrees east.

In its Aug. 4 liftoff from Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, the Ariane 5 ECA vehicle placed the Nilesat 201 and Rascom-QAF 1R satellites into geostationary transfer orbit.

Egypt’s Nilesat satellite fleet operator will operate Nilesat 201 at the company’s core 7 degrees west orbital slot, with direct-broadcast television being the principal mission. The satellite has 24 Ku-band transponders. But it also carries four Ka-band transponders for broadband Internet links in a further example of the increasing use of Ka-band in the Middle East.

Fellow Mideast satellite operators Yahsat of the United Arab Emirates and Arabsat of Saudi Arabia are also introducing Ka-band to their fleets.

Built by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy, Nilesat weighed 3,200 kilograms at launch and is expected to operate for 15 years.

Rascom-QAF 1R, also built by Thales Alenia Space, carries 12 Ku- and eight C-band transponders and weighed 3,050 kilograms at launch. Thales Alenia Space and the Rascom organization, which counts some 45 African telecommunications operators as shareholders, had agreed to fill Rascom-QAF 1R’s fuel tanks to the maximum extent possible.

Thales Alenia Space said early indications are that the launch accuracy would provide Rascom-QAF 1R with 19 years of service life at its 2.9 degrees east orbital slot.

Arianespace had hoped to conduct seven Ariane 5 launches in 2010, equaling the record set in 2009. But the company encountered delays on launches earlier this year and now expects that it will be able to manage six campaigns.