Spaceflight Now: Mission Report


BY SPACEFLIGHT NOW WRITERS

November 15, 2000 -- Follow the preparations and launch of the PAS-1R communications satellite and three smaller payloads aboard the Arianespace Ariane 507 rocket. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

0240 GMT (9:40 p.m. EST)

Ground controllers have established contact with the PAS-1R communications spacecraft launched tonight aboard the Ariane 5 rocket, verifying its systems are operating normally. The first signals from the satellite were via the tracking station in Hartebeesthoek, South Africa. PAS-1R was built by Boeing Satellite Systems, formerly Hughes Space and Communications, for operator PanAmSat.

0149 GMT (8:49 p.m. EST)

Plus+42 minutes, 50 seconds. PHASE 3D SEPARATION! The amateur radio satellite Phase 3D has been released from the Ariane 5 rocket, successfully completing tonight's launch. This marks the fourth consecutive successful commercial flight for Europe's heavy-lift Ariane 5 vehicle.

0147 GMT (8:47 p.m. EST)

Plus+40 minutes. About two minutes to go before deployment of the Amsat Phase 3D spacecraft. Altitude 4,637 km, velocity 6.9 km/sec.

0145 GMT (8:45 p.m. EST)

Plus+38 minutes. Altitude 4,179 km, velocity 7.1 km/sec.

0142 GMT (8:42 p.m. EST)

Plus+35 minutes, 30 seconds. Now counting down to release of Amsat's Phase 3D amateur radio satellite in about six minutes. Altitude 3,525 km, velocity 7.4 km/sec.

0141 GMT (8:41 p.m. EST)

Plus+34 minutes, 16 seconds. STRV 1C & 1D SEPARATION! The Space Technology Reseach Vehicles 1C and 1D have been released from the rocket's Ariane Structure for Auxiliary Payload (ASAP) system.

0140 GMT (8:40 p.m. EST)

Plus+33 minutes. Still positive data coming from the rocket as it coasts before release of the secondary payloads. Altitude 2,933 km, velocity 7.8 km/sec.

0138 GMT (8:38 p.m. EST)

Plus+31 minutes. The two British military research microsatellites -- STRV 1C and 1D -- will be released from the Ariane 5 rocket next. They will be ejected in just over three minutes from now, each coming off one second apart.

0137 GMT (8:37 p.m. EST)

Plus+30 minutes. Tonight's mission of Arianespace Flight 135 is far from over. There are three more satellite payloads to be deployed over the next 12 minutes. Altitude 2,268 km, velocity 8.2 km/sec.

0136 GMT (8:36 p.m. EST)

Plus+29 minutes, 12 seconds. PAS-1R SEPARATION! Arianespace reports PanAmSat's PAS-1R telecommunications satellite has been has been released into space from the Ariane 5 rocket. The satellite, built by Boeing, features 72 transponders that will serve Africa, North and South America and Europe.

0134 GMT (8:34 p.m. EST)

Plus+27 minutes, 5 seconds. Confirmation that the upper stage has shutdown as planned to complete powered flight for the launch. The stage will now provide proper pointing for deployment of the PAS-1R primary payload satellite in less than two minutes.

0133 GMT (8:33 p.m. EST)

Plus+26 minutes, 30 seconds. Standing by for cutoff of the storable upper stage in less than one minute. All vehicle systems still reported to be functioning normally. Altitude is 1,584 km, 8.6 km/sec.

0132 GMT (8:32 p.m. EST)

Plus+25 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude is 1,405 km, 8.5 km/sec.

0131 GMT (8:31 p.m. EST)

Plus+24 minutes. Altitude 1187 km, velocity 8.47 km/sec. The Malindi tracking station in Kenya, Africa, has acquired the Ariane 5 rocket's signal.

0130 GMT (8:30 p.m. EST)

Plus+23 minutes. Altitude 1043 km, velocity 8.42 km/sec.

0129 GMT (8:29 p.m. EST)

Plus+22 minutes. About five minutes left in the upper stage firing tonight.

0128 GMT (8:28 p.m. EST)

Plus+21 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude 857 km, velocity 8.35 km/sec.

0127 GMT (8:27 p.m. EST)

Plus+20 minutes. Altitude 705 km, velocity 8.28 km/sec.

0125 GMT (8:25 p.m. EST)

Plus+18 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude 572 km, velocity 8.2 km/sec.

0123 GMT (8:23 p.m. EST)

Plus+16 minutes, 30 seconds. All rocket systems still reported to operating normally. Altitude 429 km, velocity 8.1 km/sec.

0122 GMT (8:22 p.m. EST)

Plus+15 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude 371 km, velocity 8.06 km/sec.

0121 GMT (8:21 p.m. EST)

Plus+14 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude 319 km, velocity 8.0 km/sec.

0119 GMT (8:19 p.m. EST)

Plus+12 minutes, 30 seconds. The Ascension Island tracking station in the mid-Atlantic Ocean has picked up signals from the Ariane 507 rocket.

0119 GMT (8:19 p.m. EST)

Plus+12 minutes. Altitude 218 km, velocity 7.8 km/sec.

0118 GMT (8:18 p.m. EST)

Plus+11 minutes. The upper stage firing normally for this long-duration burn. Altitude 185.9 km, velocity 7.79 km/sec.

0117 GMT (8:17 p.m. EST)

Plus+10 minutes. The main cryogenic stage's Vulcain engine has cut off and the stage has separated. It will fall toward the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The upper stage, the storable propellant stage, has ignited to deliver the PAS-1R and three secondary satellite payloads into orbit.

Also, the tracking stations at the launch site have lost contact with the Ariane 5 as it heads downrange and over Kourou's horizon.

0116 GMT (8:16 p.m. EST)

Plus+9 minutes, 30 seconds. Less than 30 seconds left in the rocket's main cryogenic stage burn. Altitude is 144.9 km, velocity 7.6 km/sec as the rocket begins gaining altitude again.

0115 GMT (8:15 p.m. EST)

Plus+8 minutes, 30 seconds. The Natal tracking station has acquired signal from the Ariane 5 rocket.

0115 GMT (8:15 p.m. EST)

Plus+8 minutes. Less than two minutes remaining in the firing of the main stage Vulcain engine. Altitude is 138 km, velocity is 5.5 km/sec.

0114 GMT (8:14 p.m. EST)

Plus+7 minutes. Now in the period of flight were the rocket gives up a bit of altitude in order to gain speed. Altitude currently 145.5 km, velocity is 4.5 km/sec.

0113 GMT (8:13 p.m. EST)

Plus+6 minutes. Ariane 5 remains on the proper trajectory, all parameters are normal. Altitude is 148.9 km, velocity 3.74 km/sec.

0112 GMT (8:12 p.m. EST)

Plus+5 minutes. Rocket systems continue to operate as planned. Altitude is 143 km, velocity 3.1 km/sec.

0111 GMT (8:11 p.m. EST)

Plus+4 minutes. Altitude is 126 km, velocity 2.6 km/sec.

0110 GMT (8:10 p.m. EST)

Plus+3 minutes, 30 seconds. The protective payload fairing has been separated from the Ariane 5.

0110 GMT (8:10 p.m. EST)

Plus+3 minutes. The Ariane 5 rocket now weighs 20 percent of what it did at liftoff. The Vulcain main engine continues to fire to propel the vehicle and its four satellite payloads into orbit.

0109 GMT (8:09 p.m. EST)

Plus+2 minutes, 35 seconds. The solid rocket boosters have been jettisoned from the Ariane 5 rocket's core stage. Altitude is 76 km.

0109 GMT (8:09 p.m. EST)

Plus+2 minutes. The Ariane 5 is right on course. Altitude is 48 km.

0108 GMT (8:08 p.m. EST)

Plus+1 minute. All vehicle systems reported normal as the Ariane 5 streaks into the a cloudy nighttime sky. Altitude is 10 km, velocity is 0.44 km/sec.

0107 GMT (8:07 p.m. EST)

Plus+30 seconds. Rocket has completed its pitch and rolls maneuvers as it heads downrange.

0107 GMT (8:07 p.m. EST)

LIFTOFF! Liftoff of Ariane 507 with PanAmSat's PAS-1R spacecraft -- a powerhouse telecommunications satellite to serve four continents -- and three secondary payloads.

0106 GMT (8:06 p.m. EST)

Minus-40 seconds. Vehicle now on internal power.

0106 GMT (8:06 p.m. EST)

Minus-1 minute. A fast-paced series of events leading to launch will begin at Minus 37 seconds when the automated ignition sequence is started. The water suppression system at the launch pad will start at Minus 30 seconds. At Minus 22 seconds, overall control will be given to the onboard computer. The Vulcain main engine will be readied for ignition with hydrogen chilldown starting at Minus 18 seconds. The residual hydrogen burn flares will fire beneath the Vulcain engine at Minus 7 seconds to burn away any free hydrogen gas. At Minus 3 seconds, onboard systems take over and the two inertial guidance systems go to flight mode. Vulcain main engine ignition occurs at Minus 0 seconds with checkout between Plus+4 and 7 seconds. If there are no problems found, the solid rocket boosters are ignited at Plus+7.3 seconds.

0104 GMT (8:04 p.m. EST)

Minus-3 minutes. All systems remain "go" for liftoff. The scheduled launch time has been loaded into the rocket's main computer system. Main stage tank pressures now at flight level.

0103 GMT (8:03 p.m. EST)

Minus-4 minutes. Pressurization now underway for the main cryogenic stage's liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks. Also, final pyrotechnic arming has started. Liftoff remains planned for 0107 GMT (8:07 p.m. EST).

0102 GMT (8:02 p.m. EST)

Minus-5 minutes and counting.

0100 GMT (8:00 p.m. EST)

Minus-7 minutes and counting. Synchronized Sequence start. Computers are now in control of this final segment of the launch countdown to prepare the rocket and ground systems for liftoff. There are two computers running the countdown -- one aboard the Ariane 5 and a redundant one at the ELA-3 launch complex.

0059 GMT (7:59 p.m. EST)

Minus-8 minutes and counting. The final weather update has verified that conditions will be acceptable for launch tonight.

0058 GMT (7:58 p.m. EST)

Minus-9 minutes and counting. The Synchronized Sequence will begin in the next two minutes to control the countdown through liftoff. The count appears to be proceeding smoothly towards an on-time launch at 0107 GMT.

0056 GMT (7:56 p.m. EST)

Minus-11 minutes and counting. All systems remain "go" for launch and the status board in the control center is completely green. At the ELA-3 launch zone, the Ariane 507 rocket is poised for liftoff with powerful flood lights illuminating the mighty launcher. It is currently 9:56 p.m. local time in Kourou.

0052 GMT (7:52 p.m. EST)

Minus-15 minutes. Today's launch will be the 135th for an Ariane rocket, the 10th of 2000 and the seventh of Ariane 5.

0050 GMT (7:50 p.m. EST)

Minus-17 minutes. Launch team members are watching systems on the Ariane 5 rocket, the satellite payload and ground support equipment. There are no problems being worked as the countdown continues.

0047 GMT (7:47 p.m. EST)

Minus-20 minutes. A network of tracking stations are standing ready to relay data from the Ariane 5 rocket to engineers in Kourou. The early portion of flight will be monitored through the Kourou and Cayenne stations in French Guiana. About 8 minutes, 20 seconds into flight the Natal station in Brazil will pick up the rocket's signal as the main stage separates and the upper stage burn gets underway. At plus 12 minutes, 46 seconds the site on Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean will begin coverage. Libreville and Malindi in Africa will provide services through the spacecraft separation.

0042 GMT (7:42 p.m. EST)

Minus-25 minutes. The Ariane 5 rocket is going for an Arianespace record tonight by launching about 14,000 pounds (6,000 kg) of cargo into geosynchronous transfer orbit with the PAS-1R, Amsat P3D and STRV 1C and 1D spacecraft.

0037 GMT (7:37 p.m. EST)

Now 30 minutes away from the scheduled blastoff time for the seventh Ariane 5 rocket. Arianespace will begin providing countdown status reports from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, starting in about 10 minutes.

At this point in the countdown the rocket should be fully fueled with the main cryogenic stage being continuously topped off to replace the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen supplies that naturally boil away. Also, the final checks of the rocket's telemetry, tracking and command systems are supposed to be finished by now.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2000
2207 GMT (5:07 p.m. EST)


Countdown clocks have entered the final three hours for the launch of the Ariane 507 rocket with the PanAmSat PAS-1R telecommunications satellite, Amsat Phase 3D amateur radio spacecraft and two small British defense research microsatellites. The rocket's cryogenic main stage has been loaded with super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen in the past couple of hours, and the status panel indicates all systems are "green" for launch.

Our live updates will begin in the final half-hour of the countdown and continue through the 42-minute flight of the Ariane 5 rocket.

1930 GMT (2:30 p.m. EST)

A second countdown is underway in Kourou as Arianespace prepares to launch the Ariane 5 rocket carrying the PAS-1R international communications satellite for PanAmSat and three secondary payloads. Liftoff was scrubbed yesterday due toa ground equipment issue.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2000
2250 GMT (4:50 p.m. EST)


Tonight's launch of the Ariane 507 rocket has been postponed 24 hours due to a ground equipment problem. Liftoff is now set for 8:07 p.m. EST on Wednesday from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. The window remains unchanged with a duration of 56 minutes.

During final pre-flight preparations, technicians reported a communications link problem between the ground and the PanAmSat PAS-1R satellite payload aboard the rocket. The glitch was traced to a component in the mast of launch table in which the rocket sits on. The suspect part will have to be replaced, officials say, before another launch attempt is possible.

0501 GMT (12:01 a.m. EST)

A European Ariane 5 rocket is set to soar tonight from its South American launch site in the jungles of French Guiana. The Arianespace Ariane 507 launcher will be shot into space on a truly international mission carrying four separate satellite cargos.

The Ariane rocket is set to begin its nearly one-hour long journey to orbit at the opening of a 56-minute launch window tonight. That window opens at 0107 GMT and closes at 0203 GMT on the early morning of November 15 (8:07-9:03 p.m. EST on Nov. 14).

Since last week, officials and workers at the Guiana Space Center at Kourou have been getting the Ariane 507 and its four payloads ready for the fiery climb to orbit, slated to begin in just around 20 hours.

On November 8, the launch team gathered in the Jupiter launch control room to conduct the final launch rehearsal, which covers most major countdown milestones through ignition.

On Thursday, the massive Ariane 5 was armed for launch, followed on Friday by the launch readiness review that effectively cleared the rocket and four would-be satellites for flight.

After a weekend off for most launch engineers, workers gathered back at the launch site Monday to roll the Ariane 507 from the final assembly building to the ELA-3 launch pad. Because of the so-called "clean-pad" design of both the launch zone and the Ariane 5 rocket, it is not required to have the launch vehicle on the launch pad until just over 24 hours before launch.

The Ariane 507, whose mission is called Flight 135, will loft four craft into orbit. They include the PAS-1R commercial telecommunications satellite, the Amsat P3D amateur radio satellite, and twin British research and technology satellites.

PAS-1R is based on Boeing Satellite System's Boeing 702 model of powerful telecommunications satellites. PAS-1R will operate under the umbrella of PanAmSat while located at its place in space 22,300 miles above Earth. Positioned in geostationary orbit at 45 degrees West above the northern coast of Brazil, PAS-1R's signal should be able to reach users on four continents -- North and South America, Europe, and Africa. Its 72 transponders -- 36 in both C-band and Ku-band -- can, according to BSS President Tig H. Krekel, "Deliver dozens of cable channels throughout Latin America, as well as broadcast billions of bits of digital video and data throughout the Americas, Europe, and Africa. PAS-1R will provide broadband access to rural and remote areas and broadcast Internet content to potentially thousands of locations simultaneously."

To sum it up, Krekel said, "It does it all, video, direct-to-home, telecommunications, and Internet services." PAS-1R will also provide services to Citibank, Reuters, Vitacom, and DirecTV-Latin America, just to name a few.

At launch, PAS-1R will take up the majority of the space available aboard the Ariane 5 for payloads, thus making it the primary focus of the mission. At launch, PAS-1R will weigh 10,571 pounds. In orbit, its power-generating solar wings will stretch 134 feet end-to-end.

Payload number two, Amsat P3D, will ride in the middle of the "stack" of spacecraft located inside of Ariane 507's payload fairing. The stack, supported by a special Ariane multiple payload adapter called Ariane Structure for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP-5), has PAS-1R located on top, Amsat P3D in the middle, and the two other auxiliary payloads located on the sides of Amsat P3D.

Amsat P3D is the largest and perhaps the most complex amateur radio satellite ever built. It will support HAM radio operators throughout North America, as well as Europe and parts of Asia. Amsat P3D features five radio receivers and eight transmitters, as well as a complement of experiments and experimental propulsion systems. During its ten years of on-orbit life, the spacecraft will have an orbit with a perigee of 4,000 km and an apogee of 47,700 km, with an inclination of 63 degrees. At launch, the craft will weigh in at 1,386 pounds. Once in this unique orbit, the satellite will deploy its solar arrays, which span almost 20 feet.

The STRV 1C and STRV 1D spacecraft are almost identical -- for example, both will weigh 220 pounds at launch. Each of the craft include a variety of experiments, with 14 in 1C and 9 in 1D. One the keys to their targeted two-year lifetime, however, is keeping the cubic craft spinning at around 10 degrees per second, enough to keep the satellite stable. After spacecraft separation, the two STRV spacecraft will do no maneuvering, keeping them both in a so-called super-synchronous transfer orbit with a perigee of 590 km, an apogee of 39,248 km, and an inclination of 6.5 degrees to the equator. The twin craft will test a series of new systems and theories brought forth recently. The STRV satellites will be the first satellites to operate under the lithium ion battery, will test a new secure communications system, will demonstrate a new Internet-based communications system, and will be the first satellites to evaluate the signal from GPS satellites from a higher orbit. "This mission keeps Britain at the forefront of space technology research," said the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency's (DERA) Graham Davison, Business Area Manager of the Space Department. DERA is the builder and prime operator of both spacecraft.

Looking ahead, the final countdown will begin at 1607 GMT (11:07 a.m. EST) and a check of electrical systems will take place at 1737 GMT (12:37 p.m. EST). The main cryogenic stage will be fueled with its load of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant starting at 1947 GMT (2:47 p.m. EST). The "chill-down" process of the Vulcain main engine of the first stage will begin at 2147 GMT (4:47 p.m. EST). This process is conducted by passing super-cold liquid hydrogen through the plumbing of the main engine, which conditions the engine for flight. A check of connections between launch, telemetry, tracking, and command systems will occur at 2352 GMT (6:52 p.m. EST). After a "go" report from all reporting elements of the launch countdown, the synchronized launch sequence will begin at 0100:30 GMT (8:00:30 p.m. EST). Following this key milestone, a series of quick-paced events occur, culminating in the ignition of the Vulcain main engine. Seven seconds later, the twin solid-fueled boosters of the Ariane 507 come to life, followed immediately by liftoff. The two solid-fueled boosters for over two minutes, followed one minute later by the jettisoning of the payload fairing. The Vulcain engine of the main cryogenic stage burns for almost 10 minutes, followed by a 17-minute burn of the storable propellant upper stage, which was fueled earlier in the processing flow. The four payloads then go through the payload separation sequence, with the last spacecraft separating from the launcher almost 42 minutes after launch.

Spaceflight Now will provide continuous live reports on this page during the final countdown and launch.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2000

A European Ariane 5 rocket with four satellites oboard is due for blast-off on the evening of November 14 (EST) from the spaceport in the Amazon jungle in French Guiana.

Launch of Arianespace's Ariane 507 rocket is to occur at the opening of a launch window 56 minutes in duration. The window will open at 0107 GMT and will close at 0203 GMT (8:07-9:03 p.m. EST). Liftoff will be from the ELA-3 launch zone at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

The 135th Ariane launch will place a combination of four satellites into a GTO (geostationary transfer orbit)-like orbit for a variety of organizations around the world.

First, the primary payload -- PAS-1R -- was built by Boeing Satellite Systems (BSS) and will be one of the most highly-powered commercial satellites ever built. PAS-1R will be the second satellite based on the relatively new HS-702 platform to be hauled into orbit for PanAmSat. Once the 10,545-pound satellite is in space, it will operate in a circular geostationary orbit, hovering over the equator at a point of 45 degrees West -- the northern coast of Brazil. The new craft will replace the aging PAS-1 satellite, more than doubling the capacity currently held at that orbital slot.

There are three auxiliary payloads slated to go into orbit on this mission -- a first for the Ariane 5 program. This requirement will force Arianespace to use a special adapter called the ASAP-5 (Ariane Structure for Auxiliary Payloads). The three auxiliary payloads for Flight 135 consist of the Amsat P3D, the STRV 1C, and the STRV 1D spacecraft.

Since our last update, the four Flight 135 payloads have all begun their final preparations for launch in their respective payload preparation facilities. The check-out of the two STRV payloads began back on October 2, followed on October 9 by the arrival and start of preparations for PAS-1R. Amsat P3D was the last of the spacecraft to begin the final operations phase, with its campaign starting on October 11.

Processing of the Ariane 507 launch vehicle was placed on hold starting on October 17, while payload and satellite operations teams were given a chance to play catch-up. This is the reason for the brief two-week delay in Flight 135's launch. During the ten-day hold in the launch campaign, the PAS-1R craft began its fueling operations on October 26, followed the next day by the resumption of the Ariane launch processing flow.

On October 27, just hours after officially resuming launcher preparations for launch, the Ariane 507 tagged for Flight 135 was rolled along the rail track from the launcher integration building where the Ariane 507 later received the four vehicles it will deliver into orbit.

The three auxiliary payloads for this mission -- Amsat P3D and STRV 1C and 1D -- were loaded atop the Ariane 507 and into their placed on and around the new ASAP-5 payload adapter. Amsat P3D is located in the center of the conglomeration while being directly on top of the ASAP-5. The STRV 1C and STRV 1D spacecraft are located on opposite sides of the ASAP-5. These complex tasks took place a week ago on October 31.

The three already-installed payloads were joined by their primary counterpart on November 2. PAS-1R is perched on top of the assortment of spacecraft and deployment mechanisms.

The protective payload fairing enclosing the spacecraft was installed on Friday, serving as the last major piece of the Ariane 507 launch vehicle to be integrated on the rocket.

Monday saw the loading of the storable propellant stage's attitude control system with its propellant. The attitude control system provides a means of maneuvering during the upper stage's extended burn period and during the deployment phase of flight.

On Tuesday, the fueling of the storable propellant stage with its 9.7 tons of monomethyl hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellant is set to take place. This event will be followed on Wednesday by the routine launch rehearsal on Wednesday and the arming of the launcher on Thursday.

The launch readiness review is scheduled to occur on Friday, clearing all major systems for flight. This is essentially a meeting between senior officials to guarantee the safety of the launch team, the launcher, and the four payloads.

The Ariane 507 will roll out from the final assembly building to the ELA-3 launch pad on November 13, followed the next day by the final launch countdown and launch.

Stay with Spaceflight Now for a complete reports leading up to the launch of Flight 135 and our play-by-play account of the countdown and launch.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2000

On cue with its accelerated schedule for the rest of 2000, Arianespace is planning its next Ariane 5 mission for late October carrying one of the most powerful commercial communications satellite, an amateur radio spacecraft and two European military research probes.

Launch of Flight 135 is currently set for October 31. A launch time has not been announced by Arianespace. Launch will be from the ELA-3 launch pad at the Guiana Space Center. Flight 135 will also be the first launch off of the second Ariane 5 mobile launch table that was commissioned in August.

Flight 135's Ariane 5 is dubbed Ariane 507 for the mission being the 7th flight of the heavy-lift rocket. This mission marks the 4th commercial launch of the Ariane 5.

The Ariane 507 will place the PAS-1R into a geostationary transfer orbit along with three auxiliary payloads. Amsat P3D, STRV 1C, and STRV 1D will ride in the first Ariane Structure for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP-5) multiple payload adapter.

PAS-1R was built by Hughes Space and Communications for PanAmSat. The satellite is based on the powerful HS-702 model of satellites built by Hughes. Featuring 72 active transponders, with 36 in both C-band and Ku-band, PAS-1R will triple the capacity of PAS-1, the craft it is replacing. The state-of-the-art spacecraft will be positioned at 45 degrees West -- 22,300 miles above the Atlantic Ocean. From this perch, PAS-1R will be able to transmit and receive data to and from the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa.

Flight 135 will also launch the Amsat P3D amateur radio satellite for the Organization for Amateur Radio Satellites (AMSAT). The international project involves Belgium, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, South Africa, and the United States.

Two more payloads aboard the Ariane 507 will be the STRV 1C and STRV 1D microsatellites. Both craft were built by the Defense Evaluation Research Agency (DERA) of the United Kingdom. Sponsors of the mission are the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense, the United States Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, the United States Air Force, ESA, and Canada, among others.

The launch campaign at Kourou for Flight 135 began on September 18. The main cryogenic stage was erected and suspended above the mobile launch table on September 19. The two large solid-fueled boosters of the Ariane 507 were slid and locked into place on either side of the main cryogenic stage the following day. The upper stage and the vehicle equipment bay should also be installed at this time.

Stay with Spaceflight Now throughout the month of October for continuing updates of the progress of the launch campaign and of the launch on October 31.

Snapshot
Ariane 5
The Ariane 5 rocket on the launch pad tonight as seen from Arianespace TV.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Ariane 507
Payload: PAS-1R
Launch date: Nov. 15, 2000
Launch window: 8:07-9:03 p.m. EST (0107-0203 GMT on 16th)
Launch site: ELA-3, Kourou, French Guiana

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