Ariane 5 ECA carries record payload mass to GTO
On the evening of 27 May, an Ariane 5 ECA launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two telecommunications satellites into geostationary transfer orbit. Lift-off took place at 18:09 French Guiana time (21:09 GMT/UTC, 23:09 CEST/Paris).
The 50.5-metre tall launch vehicle was carrying the Satmex 6 telecommunications satellite for the Mexican operator Satelites Mexicanos SA de CV and the Thaicom 5 telecommunications satellite for Thailand's Shin Satellite Public Company Limited. With a combined mass of around 8300 kg, the two satellites set a record for the largest payload mass carried into geostationary transfer orbit.
The upper stage cryogenic engine was shut down 24m51s after lift-off. By this time the launch vehicle upper composite had attained a velocity of approximately 9400 metres per second (almost 33 900 km/h) and the conditions for geostationary transfer orbit injection had been achieved.
Satmex 6 was the first satellite to separate, followed by Thaicom 5. Injection into the target geostationary transfer orbit for the two spacecrafts was achieved with very high precision.