Flight 161 heads for space

Flight 161 launch
12 June 2003

An Ariane 5 successfully lifted off from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, yesterday evening, placing a dual-satellite payload into geostationary transfer orbit for Australia and Japan.

Despite brief countdown hold resulting from cloudy and rainy weather conditions, Flight 161's launch vehicle lifted off from the Spaceport in French Guiana yesterday evening, carrying the BSAT-2c and Optus and Defence C1 spacecraft, reports Arianespace.

The Optus and Defence C1 satellite was released at approximately 28 minutes into the mission, followed seven minutes later by BSAT-2c. Flight 161 once again underscored Arianespace's capability to combine two payloads on the same launcher, using the performance capabilities of Ariane 5.

"This launch is a representation of Arianespace's involvement and dedication to the Asian market," Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said after the successful mission. "We are very proud to serve two important customers from this part of the world."

Optus and Defence C1 was designed, assembled and integrated by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Japan as prime contractor, and by Space Systems Loral USA and Raytheon Systems Company USA as major subcontractors. It is to be positioned at 156 deg. East over Melanesia, and will provide commercial communications service to Australia, New Zealand, East Asia and Hawaii for Australian telecom operator Optus. The spacecraft will also serve the Australian Department of Defence with dedicated links in UHF, X-band and Ka-band.

With a liftoff mass of approximately 4,725 kg., the satellite is designed for an operational lifetime of 15 years.

Ariane 5 on the launch pad
Ariane 5 on the launch pad

Optus and Defence C1 is the second Australian satellite to be launched by Ariane, following the Aussat K3 satellite that was orbited in September 1987. In addition, Ariane launched the ST-1 spacecraft in 1998 for Singapore's Singtel -- which is the parent company of telecom operator Optus.

The BSAT-2c payload carried today by Flight 161 was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation of the U.S., which manufactured the 1,275-kg. satellite for the Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) of Japan. The spacecraft will provide direct digital TV broadcast links throughout Japan from an orbital position of 110 deg. over the island of Borneo. Its operational lifetime is 10 years.

BSAT-2c was the 19 satellite launched by Ariane for Japan, and the fifth for B-SAT. BSAT-2C also was the fifth Orbital Sciences Corp.-built spacecraft lofted by Arianespace using an Ariane 5 since March 2001.

In his post-launch remarks, Arianespace CEO Le Gall acknowledged the important decisions taken at the European Space Agency's May 27 ministerial-level council meeting. During the session in Paris, ministers approved the Ariane launcher consolidation plan and the European Guaranteed Access to Space program, along with the reorganization with the Ariane's industrial partners to enhance competitiveness and construction of a Soyuz launch pad at the Spaceport.

"These decisions will enable Arianespace to meet all customer requirements by offering a range of launchers - Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, which cover all commercial and government missions," Le Gall said. "Arianespace is, and will continue to be, the reference launch service provider."

Arianespace's next mission is targeted for late August, when an Ariane 5G will carry a satellite trio: the INSAT-3C telecom and TV broadcast spacecraft for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the e-BIRD telecom platform for Eutelsat, and the Smart-1 advanced research and technology testbed for the European Space Agency.

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