On Friday evening, May 4, Arianespace placed two communications satellites into geostationary transfer orbit: Astra 1L for the European operator SES Astra, and Galaxy 17 for the international operator Intelsat.

32nd Ariane 5 launch, 18th success in a row

The latest successful launch of an Ariane 5, the second in 2007, confirms that Arianespace’s launch Services & Solutions continue to set the standard for all major telecom operators worldwide.

Today, Ariane 5 is the only commercial launcher in service capable of simultaneously launching two payloads.

A launch for two prestigious, loyal customers

Astra 1L is the ninth SES Astra satellite to be launched by Arianespace. SES Astra is the leading direct-to-home (DTH) broadcast system in Europe, serving more than 109 million households via DTH and cable networks. Satellites in the SES Astra fleet transmit 1,864 TV and radio stations.

Galaxy 17 is the 45th Intelsat satellite to use an Ariane launcher since 1983. More than 60% of the Intelsat satellites in service today were orbited by the European launch vehicle. Intelsat is currently the world’s largest supplier of fixed satellite services (FSS). Its services are used by an extensive customer base including some of the world’s leading media and communications companies, multinational corporations, Internet service providers and government/military organizations.

Record backlog of orders

Arianespace has signed six new launch Service & Solutions contracts since the beginning of the year, bringing its backlog to 39 satellites to be launched after this evening’s mission. Four more Ariane 5 launches are scheduled by the end of 2007.

Astra 1L/Galaxy 17 mission at a glance

The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Friday, May 4, at 7:29 pm local time in Kourou (6:29 pm in Washington, DC, 22:29 UT, and on Saturday May 5 at 12:29 am in Paris).

Provisional parameters at injection of the cryogenic upper stage (ESC-A) were:

  • Perigee: 248.2 km for a target of 248.2 km (±3)
  • Apogee: 35,958 km for a target of 35,947 km (±160)
  • Inclination: 5.9 degrees for a target of 6.0 degrees (±0.06°)

Astra 1L, built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS) using an A2100 AX platform, will weigh about 4,500 kg at launch. Equipped with 29 Ku-band active transponders and 2 Ka-band active transponders, Astra 1L will be positioned at 19.2 degrees East, and provide high-power satellite services across Europe. Its design life is approximately 15 years.

Galaxy 17, built by Thales Alenia Space using a Spacebus 3000 B3 platform, is designed to provide television and telephony services for North America. Weighing about 4,100 kg at launch, it is fitted with 24 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders. Its design life is about 15 years.