Arianespace Picked To Loft Vietnam’s Vinasat-2 Satellite

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PARIS — Vietnam’s Vinasat-2 telecommunications satellite will be launched in mid-2012 by Europe’s Arianespace consortium either as a co-passenger on a heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket or as the sole satellite aboard the European version of Russia’s medium-lift Soyuz rocket, Arianespace announced June 15.

Vinasat-2 is expected to weigh 2,970 kilograms at launch, placing it just under the performance ceiling for the Soyuz vehicle to be operated from Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport in French Guiana. Soyuz launches from the European facility are expected to begin late this year.

Vinasat-2 is under construction by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., under a contract that also includes the satellite’s launch. Vinasat-2’s owner, the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunication Group (VNPT), had said in May at the time of the contract signing with Lockheed Martin that Evry, France-based Arianespace would be given launch responsibility.

Vinasat-2 will carry 24 Ku-band transponders and will operate at 131.8 degrees east longitude in geostationary orbit. It will give VNPT room to grow beyond the smaller Vinasat-1 satellite, also built by Lockheed Martin, which was launched in 2008 and is expected to be fully booked by 2012.