Ariane 5 launches two telecommunications satellites
On 11 August 2006, 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 orbits. Lift-off of flight V172 took place at 22:15 GMT/UTC (19:15 local time, 00:15 / 12 August CEST/Paris). The satellites were accurately injected into the correct transfer orbits about 30 minutes later.
The payload satellites were JCSAT-10, which will supply fixed satellite services (FSS) for Japan, the Asia-Pacific region and Hawaii, and Syracuse 3B, which will provide communications for the French armed forces.
The Ariane 5’s cryogenic, liquid fuelled, main engine was ignited first. Seven seconds later, the solid fuel rocket boosters were also fired, and a fraction of a second after that, the launch vehicle lifted off.
The solid boosters were jettisoned 2min:18sec after main engine ignition, and the fairing protecting the payload during the climb through the Earth’s atmosphere was discarded at 3min:12sec. The launcher’s main engine was shut down at 8min:52sec and the main cryogenic stage separated from the upper stage and its payload just over nine minutes into the flight.
Four seconds after main stage separation, the engine of the launcher’s cryogenic upper stage was ignited to continue the journey. The upper stage engine was shut down at 24min:39sec into the flight, at which point the launch vehicle was travelling at over 9400 metres per second (nearly 34 000 kilometres per hour) at an altitude of 550 kilometres and the conditions for geostationary transfer orbit injection had been achieved.
At 27min:07 sec, JCSAT-10 separated from the launcher, followed Syracuse 3B at 32min:50sec.
Ariane 5 ECA
Ariane 5 ECA is the latest version of the Ariane 5 launcher. It is designed to place payloads weighing up to 9.6 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit. With its increased capacity Ariane 5 ECA can handle dual launches of very large satellites.