The launch vehicle for Arianespace’s first mission of 2016 has received its payload, as the initial Intelsat EpicNG high-throughput satellite has been mated to the Ariane 5 at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

During activity in the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, this spacecraft – designated Intelsat 29e – was installed atop the launcher yesterday, a step which is to be followed by its encapsulation in the ogive-shaped protective payload fairing. Intelsat 29e will be a solo payload on this January 27 delivery mission to geostationary transfer orbit.

Intelsat is one of the leading customers for launch services with the workhorse Ariane 5, and Intelsat 29e will be the 56th Intelsat satellite launched by Arianespace – continuing a relationship spanning more than 30 years. Intelsat 29e was built by Boeing, with a liftoff mass of just over 6,550 kg.

Next week’s mission – Flight VA228 – marks the 228th using an Ariane vehicle since the European series of launch vehicles entered service in 1979, and the 273rd overall to be performed by Arianespace’s family of launchers, which is composed of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega.

The January 27 flight kicks off another busy year of activity for Arianespace, with an objective of 11 launches – including as many as eight by Ariane 5, which would be a new all-time record for the heavy-lift launcher.