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Fifth Ariane Mission of 2006

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Fifth Ariane Mission of 2006


See also:
Fourth Ariane 5 launch
Third Ariane 5 launch
Second Ariane of 2006

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October 27, 2006

Assembly begins for the fifth Ariane 5 to be launched in 2006



The fifth Ariane 5 to be operated by Arianespace in 2006 is now taking shape at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana for a liftoff in December with a dual-satellite payload for U.S. operators.

user posted image
Ariane 5's core cryogenic stage is raised for positioning over the mobile launch table.

Activity began this week as the heavy-lift vehicle's cryogenic core stage was positioned over the mobile launch table inside the Spaceport's assembly building. This will be followed by the mating of Ariane 5's two solid boosters.

As with Arianespace's four previous missions performed since January, the year-ending Ariane 5 flight will carry two primary satellite passengers: the WildBlue-1 broadband connectivity spacecraft for WildBlue, and the AMC-18 multi-mission relay platform for SES AMERICOM.

AMC-18's payload of 24 C-band transponders will distribute cable television services to the 50 United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. It will expand SES AMERICOM's fleet of satellites, which provide the distribution of cable, broadcast television and radio, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions. AMC-18 is manufactured by Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems and is based on the company's A2100 spacecraft bus.

The WildBlue-1 satellite will enable WildBlue to expand its satellite broadband connectivity to homes and small businesses in U.S. communities where terrestrial broadband access is either limited or unavailable. This 4.7-metric ton high-power satellite is based on Space Systems/Loral's 1300 spacecraft bus, and will provide Ka-band spot beam capacity over the contiguous United States.


Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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October 31, 2006

Ariane 5's cryogenic upper stage is integrated on the launch vehicle

The Ariane 5 for Arianespace's final dual-satellite mission of 2006 is now fitted with its ESC-A upper stage, which utilizes a cryogenic engine that has delivered more commercial payloads into orbit than any other propulsion system.

user posted image

The ESC-A upper stage is prepared

at Europe's Spaceport in French

Guiana for integration earlier this

week on the Ariane 5.

During the past 17 years, the upper stage's HM-7B engine has performed an industry record of 80 consecutive successful flights. In addition to its service on Ariane 5, HM-7B also was the reliable third-stage engine on the predecessor Ariane 4 launch vehicle family.

The ESC-A upper stage for Ariane 5 is supplied by EADS Space Transportation, and is an element of the powerful propulsion system that provides increased lift capabilities for this workhorse heavy-lift launcher. Snecma Moteurs manufacturers the HM-7B engine.

Arianespace's year-ending Ariane 5 mission is set for December, and will be the commercial launch services provider's fifth dual-satellite mission of 2006. Both passengers on the upcoming mission will serve the U.S. marketplace: the WildBlue-1 broadband connectivity spacecraft for WildBlue; and SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 multi-mission relay platform.

WildBlue-1 will increase WildBlue's satellite broadband connectivity to areas of the U.S. where terrestrial broadband access is either limited or unavailable. The 4.7-metric ton high-power platform is based on Space Systems/Loral's 1300 spacecraft bus, and will provide Ka-band spot beam capacity over the contiguous United States.

Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems manufactured the AMC-18 satellite, which will distribute cable television services to the 50 United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. It will join SES AMERICOM's fleet of satellites that distribute cable, broadcast television and radio, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 1, 2006

Ariane 5 is topped off with its vehicle equipment bay

The Ariane 5 industrial team has completed initial buildup of the heavy-lift launcher for Arianespace's year-ending dual satellite mission, which is scheduled for a December liftoff. Our photo selection below details the installation of Ariane 5's vehicle equipment bay, which is the uppermost element of the basic launcher (click on the images for a larger version):

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user posted image

The ring-shaped vehicle equipment bay is hoisted upward inside the Spaceport's Launcher Integration Building for its integration atop Ariane 5. Weighing approximately 950 kg., the equipment bay contains the flight control unit, telemetry, power distribution systems and other elements for guidance, orientation and sequencing during the Ariane 5 mission.

user posted image

This underside view shows the vehicle equipment bay's gold-colored thermal protection. Included in the equipment bay's guidance system are highly precise laser gyros, which contribute to making Ariane 5's orbital injection the most accurate of any commercial launch system.

user posted image

The upper portion of Arianespace's heavy-lift Ariane 5 is surrounded by work platforms that provide access to various levels of the launch vehicle. Visible in the background at right is the vehicle equipment bay (arrow 1), which is being positioned for its installation atop the Ariane 5 cryogenic upper stage on the launcher's core section (arrow 2). EADS Astrium builds the vehicle equipment bay, while EADS Space Transportation is the prime contractor for Ariane 5.

user posted image

Launch team members make one final inspection of the Ariane 5's cryogenic upper stage before lowering the vehicle equipment bay into position. Additional checkout and preparation of the Ariane 5 will continue inside the Launcher Integration Building, followed by its transfer to the Final Assembly Building - where the mission's dual-satellite payload of the WildBlue-1 and AMC-18 spacecraft will be installed.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 6, 2006

Europe's Spaceport welcomes the initial satellite for Ariane 5's upcoming dual-payload launch

The first payload for Arianespace's final Ariane 5 flight of 2006 arrived at the Spaceport in French Guiana today, starting a new phase of launch campaign preparations for this December heavy-lift mission.

IPB Image

AMC-18 is unloaded from the AN-124 airlifter at

Rochambeau International Airport near the capital

city of Cayenne.

SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 telecommunications satellite landed at Cayenne's Rochambeau International Airport aboard an Antonov AN-124 cargo jetliner, and was then transferred to the launch site for its initial checkout.

AMC-18 was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems, and carries a payload of 24 C-band transponders to distribute cable television services to the 50 United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.

This platform will expand SES AMERICOM's fleet of satellites that provide the distribution of cable, broadcast television and radio, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

AMC-18 will be orbited by Ariane 5 along with the WildBlue-1 satellite, which is to expand WildBlue's satellite broadband connectivity delivered to homes and small businesses across the United States.

The December Ariane 5 mission will be Arianespace's fifth heavy-lift flight of 2006. All four previous launches were highly successful, with the Ariane 5 placing a total of eight satellite payloads into highly accurate geostationary transfer orbits.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 7, 2006

SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 begins pre-launch checkout at the Spaceport

The AMC-18 satellite for Ariane 5's next mission has made initial contact with launcher hardware as final pre-launch preparations begin for the SES AMERICOM payload. Our photo report provides a review of activity at Europe's Spaceport as the campaign continues for a December liftoff (click on the images for a larger version):

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IPB Image

The shipping container that protected AMC-18 during its cargo jetliner flight to French Guiana is raised into the vertical position inside the satellite preparation facility. AMC-18 was built in Sunnyvale, California by Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems, and is based on the company's A2100 spacecraft bus. After deployment by Ariane 5, AMC-18 will operate from an orbital position of 105 deg. West.

IPB Image

As the shipping container is raised above AMC-18, launch team members get their first look at the satellite after its arrival at Europe's Spaceport. AMC-18 is equipped with 24 C-band transponders and will provide cable television services to the 50 United States and the Caribbean. With a design life of 15-plus years, it will expand SES AMERICOM's fleet of satellites that distribute cable, television and radio broadcasts, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

IPB Image

AMC-18 is lowered onto the cone-shape payload adapter structure that serves as the installation interface with Ariane 5. This is a standard milestone in the campaign, and verifies the proper fit between the satellite and its Ariane 5 interface adapter. SES Americom's AMC-18 will be orbited by Ariane 5 along with the WildBlue-1 spacecraft, which is to expand satellite-delivered broadband connectivity for homes and small businesses across the United States.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 10, 2006

WildBlue-1 starts its pre-launch preparations at the Spaceport

One of the world's first all Ka-band commercial satellites is now undergoing pre-launch checkout as WildBlue-1 is readied for Arianespace's December heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana.

IPB Image

WildBlue-1 arrived this week aboard an Antonov An-124 cargo jetliner, which landed at Cayenne's Rochambeau International Airport. After its unloading from the Ukrainian-built aircraft, the satellite was transferred to the Spaceport's S5 payload preparation facility.

The Space Systems/Loral-built satellite will provide direct two-way wireless Internet access to homes and small offices in areas of the contiguous United States where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable.

By using the Ka-band frequency, WildBlue-1 takes advantage of a portion of the radio spectrum with substantially more capacity than available in the Ku-band, which is more commonly used for satellite communications. Once in operation, the spacecraft will allow Colorado-based WildBlue Communications, Inc. to triple its customer capacity in the United States.

WildBlue-1 will be orbited along with SES Americom's AMC-18 telecommunications satellite on the final Ariane 5 heavy-lift mission of 2006, which is set for early December. This will be Arianespace's fifth dual-satellite Ariane 5 launch of the year.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 14, 2006

WildBlue-1 completes the pre-launch fit-check with Ariane 5 launcher hardware

The WildBlue-1 payload for Ariane 5's upcoming launch has marked a milestone in its pre-launch campaign, completing the "fit check" verification with its launcher interface hardware.

IPB Image

WildBlue-1 approaches the Ariane 5

payload adapter (in the foreground)

for its fit-check.

During activity inside the S5 satellite preparation facility, WildBlue-1 was lowered onto the cone-shape payload adapter structure that serves as the interface with Ariane 5. This is a standard step in the launch campaign, and verifies a proper fit between the payload and the hardware with which it will be integrated on Ariane 5.

WildBlue-1 is a pioneering satellite, using next-generation, two-way wireless Ka-band spot beam technology for multiple re-use of the same frequency. This provides higher capacity at lower cost compared to other available satellite systems, lowering the cost of providing high bandwidth access to the Internet.

Once in orbit, WildBlue-1 will allow Colorado-based WildBlue Communications, to triple its customer capacity in the United States, providing Internet access to homes and small offices in areas where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable

WildBlue Communications initiated its Internet connectivity service by using relay capacity on Telesat's Anik F2 satellite - which was launched by an Ariane 5 in July 2004. At that time, the 5,950 kg. platform was the largest commercial telecommunications platform ever lofted.

For Arianespace's upcoming Ariane 5 heavy-lift mission (which is set for early December from the Spaceport in French Guiana), WildBlue-1 will be orbited along with SES Americom's AMC-18 telecommunications satellite. The flight will be Ariane 5's fifth dual-satellite launch of the year.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 21, 2006

Arianespace's fifth heavy-lift Ariane 5 of 2006 enters final assembly

Preparations for Arianespace's final Ariane 5 flight of 2006 have moved into their next phase following the launcher's transfer from the integration building to the final assembly facility at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

IPB Image

Ariane 5 approaches the Final

Assembly Building at Europe's

Spaceport, where its dual-satellite

payload will be installed.

The transfer occurred yesterday (November 21), with the Ariane 5 riding atop its massive mobile launch table. After rolling out of the Launcher Integration Building (where the vehicle's basic assembly was performed), the Ariane 5 moved along a 2.5-km. semi-circular rail line to the Final Assembly Building, where its dual satellite payload will be installed.

Liftoff of the Ariane 5 is set for the evening of December 8. As with the other four successful flights in 2006, this year-ending heavy-lift mission will carry two satellite passengers.

Installed in the upper position of Ariane 5's multiple payload dispenser system will be the 4,735 kg. WildBlue-1 spacecraft. The pioneering satellite will provide Internet access by using next-generation, two-way wireless Ka-band spot beam technology for multiple re-use of the same frequency.

WildBlue-1 will allow Colorado-based WildBlue Communications, to triple its customer capacity in the United States, providing Internet access to homes and small offices in areas where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable. The spacecraft was produced in Palo Alto, California by Space Systems/Loral and will be positioned at an orbital slot of 109.2 deg. West.

Joining WildBlue-1 on the December 8 mission will be SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 telecommunications satellite. AMC-18 is to ride in the lower passenger position, and will have a mass at liftoff of approximately 2,080 kg. It was built in Sunnyvale, California by Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems, and will operate from an orbital position of 105 deg. West.

Equipped with 24 C-band transponders, AMC-18 will provide cable television services to the 50 United States and the Caribbean. With a design life of more than 15 years, it will expand SES AMERICOM's fleet of satellites that distribute cable, television and radio broadcasts, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 27, 2006

Ariane 5's satellites are readied for installation on the launch vehicle

The dual-satellite payload for Arianespace's fifth Ariane 5 mission of 2006 is ready for integration with the launcher at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. This year-ending flight - scheduled for December 8 - will carry WildBlue Communications' WildBlue-1 and SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 spacecraft.

Our photo report details the activity with these telecommunications platforms in the Spaceport's S5 satellite preparation facility (click on the images for a larger version):

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IPB Image

A launch team member hooks up propellant lines for the fueling of AMC-18. This Lockheed Martin-built satellite will have a mass at liftoff of approximately 2,080 kg., and is to ride in the lower passenger position on Ariane 5's multiple payload dispenser system.

IPB Image

AMC-18 is equipped with 24 C-band transponders and will provide cable television services to the 50 United States and the Caribbean. It has a design life of 15-plus years, and will expand SES AMERICOM's fleet of satellites that distribute cable, television and radio broadcasts, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

IPB Image

WildBlue-1 is moved from one hall to another within the S5 satellite preparation facility via an inside corridor. The S5 building's design allows payloads to complete their entire processing cycle while remaining within clean room conditions of the facility. WildBlue-1 is an all-Ka-band satellite that will provide direct two-way wireless Internet access to homes and small offices in areas of the contiguous United States where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable.

IPB Image

The WildBlue-1 satellite is installed on its cone-shaped adapter, which acts as the interface with the Ariane 5 payload "stack." With a mass at liftoff of 4,735 kg., WildBlue-1 will ride in the upper payload position on the launcher, and is to be released first in the deployment sequence.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 28, 2006

WildBlue-1 is integrated for its launch on Ariane 5

WildBlue Communications' WildBlue-1 satellite has completed its integration as the upper passenger on Ariane 5's upcoming launch. WildBlue-1 will be orbited along with SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 on Arianespace's fifth and final heavy-lift mission of 2006, which is scheduled for December 8.

The integration procedure is detailed in the photos below, which were taken in the Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building at Europe's Spaceport (click on the images for a larger version):

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IPB Image

WildBlue-1 is shown installed atop the SYLDA 5 multi-payload dispenser. SYLDA 5 is at the heart of Ariane 5's dual satellite deployment system, and enables the WildBlue Communications spacecraft to ride in the upper passenger position of Ariane 5's payload "stack."

IPB Image

This image shows WildBlue-1 and its SLYDA 5 dispenser (in the background), with the Ariane 5's payload fairing in the foreground. The fairing, built by Switzerland's Oerlikon Space AG, protects the satellite payload during Ariane 5's ascent through the dense layers of the Earth's atmosphere.

IPB Image

A close-up photo underscores the size of Ariane 5's payload fairing, which has an external diameter of 5.4 meters. The fairing carries a reference to Spain's Barcelona, which is member of the Community of Ariane Cities – an association formed in 1998 to assist in the economic, cultural and educational development of cities and citizens who contribute to the Ariane program and to European space activities.

IPB Image

The Ariane 5 payload fairing is lowered over WildBlue-1 and the SYLDA 5 dispenser. This integrated component will then be hoisted to the upper levels of the Final Assembly Building, where it is to be placed over AMC-18 atop Ariane 5 – positioning this lower satellite inside the SYLDA 5, and completing the Ariane 5's payload "stack."

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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November 29, 2006

Ariane 5 is fitted with the first of its two satellite payloads

The first passenger of Ariane 5's dual-satellite payload has been integrated on the launcher, marking another milestone in preparations for the December 8 liftoff.

Our photo report from the Spaceport in French Guiana highlights the installation of SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 atop the heavy-lift vehicle (click on the images for a larger version):

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IPB Image IPB Image

These two images provide top and bottom views of the AMC-18 as the satellite is hoisted inside the Final Assembly Building for its integration on Ariane 5. The overhead photo (at left) provides an overview of the Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft, which will operate from an orbital position of 105 deg. West, providing cable television services to the 50 United States and the Caribbean. The underside image (at right) details the cone-shaped payload adapter, which serves as the payload's interface with Ariane 5.

IPB Image

This image shows WildBlue-1 and its SLYDA 5 dispenser (in the background), with the Ariane 5's payload fairing in the foreground. The fairing, built by Switzerland's Oerlikon Space AG, protects the satellite payload during Ariane 5's ascent through the dense layers of the Earth's atmosphere.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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December 1, 2006

WildBlue-1 joins AMC-18 on the Ariane 5 launcher

The Ariane 5 for Arianespace's final mission of 2006 is now complete following the installation of its upper payload component at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

This fifth Ariane 5 mission of 2006 will carry WildBlue Communication's WildBlue-1 satellite for Internet access, and SES AMERICOM'S AMC-18, which will distribute cable, TV/radio broadcasts and telecommunications services throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

The image series below details the final payload integration process on November 30, which is a key milestone in the preparations for Ariane 5's December 8 launch (click on the photos for a larger version of each image):

IPB Image IPB Image IPB Image

The payload fairing containing WildBlue-1 is hoisted from the encapsulation hall area of Ariane 5's Final Assembly Building at the Spaceport (photo at left). An overhead hoist lifts the payload through an opening in the hall's ceiling, providing access to the launcher.

In the center image, the payload fairing/WildBlue-1 combination has reached the end of its upward climb in the Final Assembly Building, and is ready to be brought forward for installation over the AMC-18 satellite - a portion of which is partly visible (arrow) above the access platforms. WildBlue-1 was produced by Space/Systems Loral, and has a liftoff mass of 4,735 kg.

The integration process is completed as the fairing is lowered into place over AMC-18 (photo at right). This 2,080-kg. Lockheed Martin-built satellite is mounted on a cone-shaped adapter that serves as the interface with Ariane 5.

Ariane 5 is able to carry such dual satellite payloads with its use of the SYLDA 5 multi-payload dispenser system. For Arianespace's December 8 flight, AMC-18 is installed atop the Ariane 5's central cryogenic core stage. WildBlue-1 is mounted on the Sylda 5 dispenser - and both are encapsulated inside the payload fairing - with the combination positioned over AMC-18.

During the mission, the two-piece payload fairing will be jettisoned seven minutes after liftoff, followed by the release of WildBlue-1 at approximately 27 minutes into the flight. The Sylda-5 dispenser is to be separated about 4 minutes later, exposing AMC-18 for its deployment approximately 32 minutes after liftoff.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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December 6, 2006

The go-ahead is given for Arianespace's upcoming "all American" Ariane 5 flight

Arianespace's year-ending Ariane 5 mission has been cleared for its December 8 liftoff following today's launch readiness review, which was performed at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

IPB Image

This drawing details the dual-satellite

payload "stack" on Ariane 5, with

WildBlue-1 in the upper position and

AMC-18 installed below it.

This important step, which is carried out prior to every Ariane flight, validates the readiness of Ariane 5, its dual satellite payload, the Spaceport's infrastructure and the down-range tracking stations.

Arianespace's December 8 launch is dedicated to the North American marketplace: both satellites will serve the North America region, and each was built by U.S. manufacturers.

Riding in the Ariane 5's upper payload position is WildBlue Communications' WildBlue-1 spacecraft, which was produced in Palo Alto, California by Space Systems/ Loral. It will be used by Colorado-based WildBlue Communications for direct two-way wireless Internet access across the contiguous United States. This service is targeted specifically for homes and small offices in areas where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable.

With a liftoff mass of 4,735 kg., the three-axis stabilized WildBlue-1 is based on Space Systems/Loral's FS 1300 satellite bus, and has a 15-year design life. Following its deployment in geostationary transfer orbit by Ariane 5, WildBlue-1 will be situated at an orbital position of 111 deg. West.

WildBlue-1 is one of the world's first commercial all Ka-band satellites, taking advantage of a portion of the radio spectrum with substantially more capacity than available in the commonly-used Ku-band.

AMC-18 is integrated as the lower payload on Ariane 5, and is to be utilized by New Jersey-based SES AMERICOM to expand its fleet of satellites that distribute cable, television and radio broadcasts, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

The AMC-18 payload was produced by Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems at its Sunnyvale, California, facility, and is based on the company's A2100 spacecraft bus. Mass at liftoff is 2,080 kg., and payload consists of 24 C-band transponders. After being released by Ariane 5, AMC-18 will operate from an orbital position of 105 deg. West.

Liftoff of the Ariane 5 is scheduled on December 8 at the opening of a 43-minute launch window, which is detailed below:

IPB Image

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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December 7, 2006

Ariane 5 moves to the launch zone with its AMC-18 and WildBlue-1 payloads


Arianespace's fifth Ariane 5 vehicle of 2006 is now in the launch zone at Europe's Spaceport, ready for tomorrow evening's liftoff with a dual satellite payload for U.S. operators.

The heavy-lift launcher rolled out this morning, emerging from the Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building under cloudy French Guiana skies at 10:45 a.m. In a process that lasted approximately one hour, the Ariane 5 rode its massive launch table along a 2.8-km. dual-rail track that links the final assembly facility with the launch zone.

Team members then secured the launch table in place, positioning it over the large flame trenches for the exhaust from Ariane 5's cryogenic core stage Vulcain 2 engine and its pair of solid rocket motors.

Liftoff of the Ariane 5 remains on schedule at the start of a 43-minute launch window on December 8 that opens at 7:08 p.m. local time in French Guiana (see the launch window, below).

Arianespace's fifth flight of an Ariane 5 in 2006


The mission is Arianespace's fifth heavy-lift Ariane 5 flight of 2006, and will carry WildBlue Communications' WildBlue-1 and SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 spacecraft. Both operators are located in the United States, and their two satellites were built in California.

WildBlue-1 spacecraft, which was produced by Space Systems/Loral, is installed in the Ariane 5's upper payload position. It will be used by Colorado-based WildBlue Communications for direct two-way wireless Internet access across the contiguous United States. This Ka-band service is targeted specifically for homes and small offices in areas where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable.

Riding in the lower passenger slot on Ariane 5 is AMC-18, which will expand New Jersey-based SES AMERICOM's fleet of satellites that distribute cable, television and radio broadcasts, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions. Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems produced AMC-18, which carries 24 C-band transponders.

Ariane 5's heavy-lift performance for tomorrow's flight is a total of 7,886 kg. This includes the two payloads (4,735 kg. for WildBlue-1, and 2,080 kg. for AMC-18), along with the mass of Ariane 5's SYLDA 5 dual-payload dispenser system, the satellite/launcher interface adapters and other associated hardware.

ariane200651ate7.jpg


Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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December 8, 2006

Final countdown underway for Arianespace's year-ending Ariane 5 mission


The final countdown is underway for Arianespace's fifth Ariane 5 mission of 2006, which is scheduled for liftoff this evening with a dual-satellite payload for two U.S. telecommunications customers.

Launch team members initiated the countdown early this morning, followed by a mid-day startup of fueling for Ariane 5's cryogenic core stage.

This final Ariane 5 heavy-lift mission of the year carries WildBlue Communication's WildBlue-1 Internet access satellite and the multi-purpose AMC-18 relay satellite for SES AMERICOM. It is scheduled for liftoff at 5:08 p.m. local time from the Spaceport in French Guiana, and will take approximately 32 minutes to deploy both payloads into geostationary transfer orbit.

The first satellite to be released is the 4,735 kg. WildBlue-1, which was produced by Space Systems/Loral and is installed in the Ariane 5's upper payload position. Colorado-based WildBlue Communications will utilize WildBlue-1 for direct two-way wireless Internet access across the contiguous United States. This pioneering all-Ka-band spacecraft will deliver Internet connectivity services targeted specifically for homes and small offices in areas where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable.

SES AMERICOM's AMC-18 will be separated approximately five minutes after the deployment of WildBlue-1. AMC-18 is to join the New Jersey-based SES AMERICOM's fleet of satellites for the distribution of cable, television and radio broadcasts, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions. The AMC-18 spacecraft carries 24 C-band transponders and was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Systems.

ariane200651ate7.jpg


Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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December 8, 2006

Ariane 5 wraps up a successful year with another on-target mission

Ariane 5 completed a busy year of launch operations today with its fifth successful flight of 2006, orbiting two American built-satellite passengers for U.S. telecommunications operators.

missionupdec82ue8.jpg

The heavy-lift Ariane 5 lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana right on time at 7:08 p.m. (22h08 GMT) and released its WildBlue-1 and AMC-18 payloads into geostationary transfer orbit duing a 32-minute mission.

With tonight's launch, Arianespace's workhorse Ariane 5 orbited a total of 10 primary satellites and one auxiliary passenger during 2006, lofting more than 38,000 metric tons of commercial payloads since January 1. In addition, the Starsem affiliate of Arianespace orbited one satellite this year using a Soyuz ST vehicle launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, and another Starsem Soyuz mission is planned for December 27.

These operations underscore the fact that Arianespace's flexible and comprehensive approach to commercial space launch operations – known by the slogan: "Service and Solutions" – is a reality, explained CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall. He also noted that today's flight was the 16th consecutive success for an Ariane 5.

"This was another remarkable year for Ariane 5, which launched more satellites in 2006 than all of our competitors combined," Le Gall said in comments at the Spaceport. "In addition, the 12 contracts we signed in 2006 represent commercial payloads will fill the equivalent of seven Ariane 5s...so we'll have many more evenings like this ahead of us."

During Ariane 5's year-ending mission, the WildBlue-1 satellite was deployed first, released by the launcher approximately 27 minutes into the flight. This was followed about five minutes later by the separation of AMC-18.

Successful deployment of WildBlue-1 and AMC-18

WildBlue-1 was produced in California by Space Systems/Loral, and will be used by Colorado-based WildBlue Communications for direct two-way wireless Internet access across the contiguous United States. This pioneering all-Ka-band satellite will provide services targeted specifically for homes and small offices in areas where terrestrial broadband access alternatives are either limited or unavailable.

When WildBlue-1 enters service at an orbital slot of 111 deg. West, the Colorado-based WildBlue Communications will be able triple the capacity for customers in the United States. The company initiated its Internet connectivity service by using relay capacity on Telesat's Anik F2 satellite – which was launched by an Ariane 5 in July 2004.

On today's flight, the AMC-18 satellite rode in the lower passenger slot on Ariane 5. Once it begins operation at 105 deg. West, it will expand the satellite fleet of New Jersey-based SES AMERICOM – a member of the SES GLOBAL satellite telecommunications group. SES AMERICOM distributes cable, TV and radio broadcasts, telecommunications services, business television and broadband data throughout the Americas and transoceanic regions.

"AMC-18 is the 25th satellite launched by Arianespace for SES GLOBAL, representing 22 years of cooperation," Arianespace's Le Gall added. "I would like to thank you very much for your confidence."

Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems built AMC-18 at its California production facility, and the spacecraft carries 24 C-band transponders.

The payload performance for Ariane 5's year-ending heavy-lift flight was a total of 7,886 kg. This includes the two satellite passengers (4,735 kg. for WildBlue-1, and 2,080 kg. for AMC-18), along with the mass of Ariane 5's SYLDA 5 dual-payload dispenser system, the satellite/launcher interface adapters and other associated hardware.

While tonight's mission was the final Ariane 5 flight of 2006, the remaining Arianespace-related launch is set for December 27, utilizing a Soyuz vehicle from Baikonur Cosmodrome to orbit Europe's COROT satellite. This space science mission will be performed under management of the Starsem affiliate, and COROT was booked by Arianespace specifically for launch on the medium-lift Soyuz.

Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

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Kourou, December 8, 2006

5 for 5 for Ariane 5 in 2006 - Successful launch of WildBlue-1 and AMC-18

On Friday evening, December 8, Arianespace placed two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit for two private American operators: WildBlue-1 for WildBlue Communications and AMC-18 for SES AMERICOM.

30th Ariane 5 launch, 16th success in a row

The latest successful launch of an Ariane 5, the fifth in 2006, confirms that Arianespace sets the global standard for launch services, with solutions meeting the needs of both private and governmental operators around the world.

Over the last 12 months, Arianespace has orbited 12 communications satellites, plus an experimental payload.

Today, Ariane 5 is the only commercial launcher in service capable of simultaneously launching two payloads.

Launches for two prestigious American customers

Arianespace's selection by both the leading satcom operators in the United States and a new American operator in this sector, is clear recognition of the company's top-quality launch service.

Colorado-based WildBlue Communications started its Internet service offering by using capacity on Telesat's Anik F2 satellite, launched by an Ariane 5 in July 2004. With the WildBlue-1 satellite, the company will be able to expand its broadband service offering to consumers and small businesses located in zones where ground-based services do not exist.

AMC-18 is the 25th SES Global (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Bourse: SESG) satellite to use an Ariane launcher. SES Global is the leading private satellite operator in the world. The AMC-18 satellite will be operated by SES AMERICOM, the largest supplier of satellite services in the United States, which operates a fleet of 18 satellites, and primarily serves the Americas. As part of the SES Global family, SES AMERICOM can provide end-to-end telecommunications solutions anywhere in the world.

WildBlue-1/AMC-18 mission at a glance

The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Friday, December 8, at 7:08 pm local time in Kourou (5:08 pm in Washington, DC, 22:08 UT and 11:08 pm in Paris).

Provisional parameters at injection of the cryogenic upper stage (ESC-A) were:

Perigee: 249.4 km for a target of 250.0 km (±3)

Apogee: 35,922 km for a target of 35,947 km (±160)

Inclination: 2.0 degrees for a target of 2.0 degrees (±0.06º)

WildBlue-1 is one of the first satellites to be totally dedicated to broadband Internet services. Built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California, WildBlue-1 weighed 4,735 kg at launch. Offering 35 spotbeams, it will enable operator WildBlue Communications to provide broadband Internet access for the contiguous United States - even in the most isolated regions of the country. It will be positioned at 111.1° West.

AMC-18, built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California using an A2100 platform, weighed 2,081 kg at launch. It is fitted with 24 active high-power C-band transponders and offers a minimum design life of 15 years. AMC-18 will provide cable TV distribution services for the United States from its orbital position at 105° West.

The Ariane 5 launcher fairing bears the inscription "Ciutat de Barcelona", as part of the Community of Ariane Cities initiative. The city of Barcelona is president of this association in 2006. The Community of Ariane Cities was founded to foster the economic, cultural and educational development of the cities involved directly or indirectly in the European space transportation program.

Source: Arianespace Press Release

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Fifth Ariane 5 launch completes a busy year


decollagetoucan11080672he2.jpg
Ariane 5 ECA lifts off from Europe's Spaceport in French
Guiana at night

Credits: ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE-Service Optique CSG


9 December 2006
On 8 December 2006, the fifth Ariane 5 launch of 2006 took place. An Ariane 5 ECA launcher lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two satellites into geostationary transfer orbits. Lift-off of flight V174 took place at 22:08 GMT/UTC (19:08 local time, 23:08 CET/Paris). The satellites were accurately injected into the correct transfer orbits about 30 minutes later.

The payload satellites were WildBlue-1, which occupied the upper position in the payload ‘stack’ on the launch vehicle, and AMC-18, which was installed in the lower position.

WildBlue-1, with a lift-off mass of 4735 kg, will provide direct two-way wireless Internet access across the contiguous United States. AMC-18, which weighed 2080 kg at lift-off, will provide cable television services to the 50 United States and the Caribbean.


Flight timeline

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 2 min: 20sec after main engine ignition, and the fairing protecting the payload during the climb through the Earth’s atmosphere was discarded at 3 min: 07sec. The launcher’s main engine was shut down at 8 min:55 sec 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 24 min:45 sec into the flight, at which point the launch vehicle was travelling at over 9300 metres per second (nearly 33 500 km/h) at an altitude of 672 kilometres and the conditions for geostationary transfer orbit injection had been achieved.

At 26 min:52 sec, WildBlue-1 separated from the launcher, followed AMC-18 at 32 min:02 sec. The mission ended 58 min:05 sec after main engine ignition.


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.


Source: ESA - News

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