Fifth Ariane 5 launch of 2009

2 October 2009

Yesterday evening, an Ariane 5 ECA launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two telecommunications satellites, Amazonas 2 and ComSatBw-1, into geostationary transfer orbits.

Lift-off of flight V191, the 47th Ariane 5 launch, took place at 23:59 CEST (21:59 UTC; 18:59 French Guiana). The target injection orbit had a perigee altitude of 250 km, an apogee altitude at injection of 35 786 km and an inclination of 3º. The satellites were accurately injected into their transfer orbits about 27 and 33 minutes after lift-off, respectively.
 
Amazonas 2 will operate in the Ku- and C-bands, relaying a wide range of communications services – including direct-to-home television – to the Americas with a coverage area extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. ComSatBw-1 is a secure relay platform for the German Bundeswehr armed forces. The payload mass for this launch was 9087 kg; the satellite masses totalled 7905 kg, with payload adapters and dispensers making up the additional 1182 kg.

Arianespace and Europe’s Spaceport are planning seven Ariane launches during 2009, maintaining the heavy-lift vehicle’s flight rate. The ability to sustain high launch rates has already been demonstrated: during the 12-month period from August 2007 to August 2008, there were nine launches (V177 – V185).
 
Initial construction of the V192 launcher for the sixth flight has been completed and the vehicle stands ready in the Launcher Integration Building (Bâtiment d’Intégration Lanceur; BIL) to be transferred to the Final Assembly Building (Bâtiment d’Assemblage Final; BAF) now it has been vacated by the rollout of V191. The major components for this year’s seventh launcher have already arrived from the manufacturer’s premises in Europe, so construction can begin once V192 is transferred to the BAF.

Flight timeline

The Ariane 5’s cryogenic, liquid-propellant main engine was ignited first. Seven seconds later, the solid-propellant boosters were also fired, and the vehicle lifted off a fraction of a second later.
 
The solid boosters were jettisoned 2 min 20 sec after main engine ignition, and the fairing protecting the payload during the climb through Earth’s atmosphere was discarded at 3 min 9 sec. The launcher’s main engine was shut down at 8 min 55 sec; six seconds later, the main cryogenic stage separated from the upper stage and its payload.
 
Four seconds after main stage separation, the engine of the cryogenic upper stage was ignited to continue the journey. The engine was shut down at 24 min 41 sec into the flight, at which point the vehicle was travelling at 9373 m/s (just over 33 700 km/h) at an altitude of 632 km and conditions for geostationary transfer orbit injection had been achieved.
 
At 27 min 6 sec after main engine ignition, Amazonas 2 separated from the upper stage, followed by ComSatBw-1 at 33 min 1 sec. Ariane 5’s flight operations were completed 49 min 29 sec after main engine ignition.

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