The launch was Arianespace's third of the year. Credit: Arianespace webcast.

WASHINGTON — Arianespace completed its third launch of the year Feb. 18, sending a Japanese communications satellite and a South Korean weather satellite into geostationary transfer orbits. 

An Ariane 5 rocket lifted off at 5:18 p.m. Eastern from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana with Sky Perfect JSAT’s JCSAT-17 satellite and the South Korean space agency KARI’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2B satellite. 

Sky Perfect JSAT fleet grows to 20 satellites

JCSAT-17, the heavier of the two satellites, separated from the rocket’s upper stage approximately 28 minutes after liftoff. The 5,900-kilogram satellite from manufacturer Lockheed Martin carries C- and Ku-band transponders, and an 18-meter S-band reflector from L3Harris Technologies.

Sky Perfect JSAT now operates 19 geostationary communications satellites and SDS-4, an experimental ship-tracking smallsat in low Earth orbit satellite that it inherited from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. 

Sky Perfect JSAT will use JCSAT-17 to provide connectivity for Japanese telecommunications company NTT DOCOMO in C- and S-band, and other customers in Ku-band. 

KARI completes environmental satellite pair

 KARI’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2B satellite separated 31 minutes after liftoff. The 3,400-kilogram satellite carries an ocean imaging payload from Airbus Defence and Space and an environmental spectrometer from Ball Aerospace. 

KARI built the satellite to monitor air pollution and marine conditions around the Korean Peninsula. It is the second in a two-satellite environmental program, following GEO-KOMPSAT-2A, which monitors meteorological and space weather, and launched on an Ariane 5 in December 2018

Byung-Seon Jeong, the vice minister of South Korea’s ministry of science and information and communications technology, said GEO-KOMPSAT-2B took seven years to complete. 

Arianespace gears up for busy March

Arianespace has now completed three of a target 22 launches this year. Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace executive vice president of missions, operations and purchasing, said the company has another three launches in March. 

Two of those are Soyuz missions — one from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying 34 satellites for OneWeb, and one from the Guiana Space Center with the United Arab Emirates Falcon Eye 2 satellite. Arianespace is also planning the return to flight of Vega with the Small Satellites Mission Service launch, which is dedicated entirely to smallsats. 

Caleb Henry is a former SpaceNews staff writer covering satellites, telecom and launch. He previously worked for Via Satellite and NewSpace Global.He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science along with a minor in astronomy from...