Successful liftoff for Ariane-5
In the early hours of this morning an Ariane-5 launcher headed for space from Kourou, in French Guiana. Flight 160 was right on time and successfully placed its two payloads into orbit.
The first payload to be released into orbit, 27 minutes after launch, was the INSAT 3A satellite, weighing 2950-kg at liftoff. This satellite, designed and built by the Indian Space Agency ISRO, contains a meteorological observation mission together with a search and rescue payload, and will also provide telecommunications and TV transmission services for India.
INSAT 3A was closely followed 11 minutes later by the 1760-kg PanAmSat GALAXY XII satellite, designed to provide telecommunications links between continental USA, Alaska and Hawai.
This morning's launch is not the first time that ISRO and PanAmSat have taken advantage of the excellent location and facilities offered by Europe’s spaceport. ISRO launched its first satellite from here in 1981 and a PanAmSat satellite was one of the two payloads successfully placed into orbit by Ariane-4's maiden flight in June 1988.
Flight 160 received the final OK on 5 April after a thorough launch readiness review of the launcher, its dual satellite payload, the launch infrastructure at Europe’s spaceport and the down-range tracking network that follows the mission.
The next Ariane-5 launch is scheduled for early June, and is to carry the Optus C1 satellite for Australia's Optus and BSAT-2c for Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) of Japan.