Spaceflight Now: V126

European Ariane 4 rocket launches U.S. TV satellite

Posted: Jan. 25, 2000

The Ariane 42L rocket ignites on its launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana. Photo: Arianespace
Arianespace began the new millennium in perfect fashion Monday, placing PanAmSat's Galaxy 10R communications satellite into the proper orbit.

The $250 million mission began when the Ariane 42L rocket's engines roared to life at 0104 GMT (8:04 p.m. EST). Moments later, the Ariane departed its South American launch pad for the 21-minute journey to space.

The Ariane's third stage released Galaxy 10R as it flew high above the Atlantic Ocean, just west of Africa.

See our Mission Status Center for a chronicle of the launch.

Ground controllers picked up the first signals from Galaxy 10R about 42 minutes after liftoff, confirming the craft's health.

Over the next two weeks, controllers will guide the Hughes Space and Communications-built satellite through firings of its liquid-propellant apogee motor to raise and circularize the orbital altitude.

The Ariane 4 rocket dropped off the satellite into an elliptical orbit with a high point of 20,789 statute miles and low point of 124 statute miles. The upcoming engine firings will circularize the orbit to geostationary altitude about 22,300 miles above the Equator.

On February 3, the satellite's twin solar arrays will be deployed to generate power. Testing of onboard systems will follow.

Operator PanAmSat plans to park Galaxy 10R at 123 degrees West longitude to cover most of North America. Service should begin around February 28, relaying cable television, Internet and other telecommunications services to the United States other parts of the continent.

Galaxy 10R
An artist's concept of the Galaxy 10R communications satellite in space. Photo: Hughes
Galaxy 10R will join four sister-satellites in PanAmSat's Galaxy "cable neighborhood." The new bird will relay via its C-band transponders such cable channels as A&E, Disney, ESPN News, Lifetime, MTV (West), The Movie Channel (West), Nickelodeon (West), The Outdoor Channel, Showtime (West), Showtime Westplex and Sundance.

Galaxy 10R also will be used to replace the Ku-band service provided by the aging SBS-5 satellite, which ran out of fuel about a week ago.

"The successful deployment of Galaxy 10R adds much needed capacity to our domestic U.S. fleet," said R. Douglas Kahn, PanAmSat's president and chief executive officer.

Monday's launch would not have been occurred if the Galaxy 10 wasn't lost in August 1998. Galaxy 10 rests in pieces at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean a few miles east of Cape Canaveral, destroyed in the failed maiden flight of Boeing's Delta 3 rocket.

Galaxy 10R joins PanAmSat's 20 other satellites in space, and is the second Galaxy bird launched in less than five weeks.

PanAmSat plans to deploy five more satellites by mid-2001. Next up will be Galaxy 4R in April aboard another Ariane 4 rocket, replacing Galaxy 4 that failed in space in 1998, followed by PAS-1R, PAS-9 and PAS-10 later this year and Galaxy 3C next spring.

Arianespace Flight 126 is the first of what could be a banner year for the European launch services provider. The company says it could conduct as many as 15 launches in 2000, including five flights of its new Ariane 5 rocket.

"In parallel to the ramp-up of Ariane 5, Arianespace is also planning eight to nine Ariane 4 flights this year. In the meantime, we will pursue our efforts to develop new, more powerful versions of Ariane 5 and beef up our production facilities to launch eight Ariane 5s per year from 2002," said Jean-Marie Luton, Arianespace's chairman and CEO.

The next Arianespace launch is targeted for February 16 when an Ariane 44LP will place the Japanese Superbird 4 communications satellite into space.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Ariane 42L
Payload: Galaxy 10R
Launch date: Jan. 25, 2000
Launch window: 0104-0139 (8:04-8:39 p.m. EST on 24th)
Launch site: ELA-2, Kourou, French Guina

Photo gallery
Launch - Images from the countdown and nighttime liftoff of the Ariane 4.

Video vault
The Ariane 42L rocket launches with PanAmSat's Galaxy 10R satellite from Kourou, French Guiana in South America.
  PLAY (1.1MB QuickTime file; courtesy Arianespace)

Pre-launch Briefing
Ariane 42L - Overview of the rocket to launch Galaxy 10R.

Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of the events to occur during launch.

Purpose of Galaxy 10R - PanAmSat to enhance cable TV programming to North America with new craft.

The Galaxy 10R satellite - Overview of the Hughes-built HS601 HP model spacecraft.

Ariane index - Listing of our previous Ariane coverage.

Explore the Net
Arianespace - European launch services provider that uses Ariane 4 and 5 rockets to carry satellites into space.

PanAmSat - Leading satellite communications provider and operator of Galaxy 10R once in space.

Hughes Space and Communications - U.S. manufacturer of Galaxy 10R satellite.

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