Spaceflight Now: V126


January 25, 2000 -- Follow the launch of the Galaxy 10R communications satellite aboard an Ariane 4 rocket. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

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

Plus+21 minutes. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! The Galaxy 10R communications satellite has successfully separated from the Ariane 4 rocket's third stage. First contact between Galaxy 10R and ground controllers will occur shortly.

Read our launch story for a wrap-up of this mission.

0124 GMT (8:24 p.m. EST)

Plus+20 minutes. Altitude is 294 km, velocity is 9.6 km/sec.

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

Plus+19 minutes. Third stage has shut down to complete the powered flight. The stage will now provide the necessary pointing for deployment of Galaxy 10R in less than two minutes.

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

Plus+18 minutes. Coming up on cutoff of the third stage in less than a minute. Altitude is 209 km, velocity is 9.4 km/sec.

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

Plus+17 minutes. The Ariane is beginning to gain altitude again. Current altitude is 195 km, velocity is 8.7 km/sec.

0120 GMT (8:20 p.m. EST)

Plus+16 minutes. Trajectory reported normal. Altitude is 196 km, velocity is 8.2 km/sec.

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

Plus+15 minutes. Ariane is passed out of range from the Natal tracking station. Altitude is 205 km, velocity is 7.7 km/sec.

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

Plus+14 minutes. Just under five minutes remaining in the third stage burn. Altitude is 221 km, velocity is 7.35 km/sec.

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

Plus+12 minutes, 30 seconds. Acsension Island in the Atlantic Ocean has picked up the rocket.

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

Plus+11 minutes. Altitude is 264 km, velocity is 6.2 km/sec.

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

Plus+10 minutes, 30 seconds. Now reaching the period in flight where the Ariane rocket gives up a bit of altitude in order to gain velocity like a sling-shot.

Also, the rocket is now passed out of range from the tracking station in Kourou.

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

Plus+10 minutes. Altitude is 270.4 km, velocity is 5.9 km/sec.

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

Plus+9 minutes. All systems reported normal in the third stage burn. Altitude is 268 km, velocity is 5.6 km/sec.

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

Plus+8 minutes. Altitude is 258 km, velocity is 5.4 km/sec.

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

Plus+7 minutes. The Natal tracking station in Brazil has acquired the rocket. Altitude is 235 km, velocity is 5.1 km/sec.

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

Plus+6 minutes. The second stage has completed its burn and separated. Third stage ignition confirmed.

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

Plus+5 minutes. Altitude is 154 km, velocity is 4.3 km/sec.

0108 GMT (8:09 p.m. EST)

Plus+4 minutes. Payload fairing has separated. All data looks good from the rocket.

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

Plus+3 minutes, 30 seconds. Four first stage Snecma Viking 5 engines are have cutoff and the first stage has separated to fall into the Atlantic. Second stage ignition is confirmed.

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

Plus+3 minutes. Altitude is 65 km, velocity is 2.3 km/sec.

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

Plus+2 minutes, 30 seconds. The twin strap-on liquid-propellant boosters have been jettisoned.

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

Plus+2 minutes. Propulsion system is working normally and trajectory is nominal.

0105 GMT (8:05 p.m. EST)

Plus+1 minute. Altitude is 3.7 km. Vehicle has gone into the clouds.

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

Plus+30 seconds. Tower is clear.

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

LIFTOFF! Arianespace launches into the new year with Flight 126 and the Galaxy 10R communications satellite.

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

Minus 1 minute. Equipment aboard the Ariane 42L rocket is being switched to onboard batteries for launch.

In the final seconds of the countdown, activities will include releasing the inertial platform at minus 9 seconds, and the release command to the retraction system for the two cryogenic arms will be given at minus 5 seconds.

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

Minus 2 minutes. Today's launch will be the 126th for an Ariane rocket, the first of 2000, the 94th Ariane 4 to be flown and the 10th for an Ariane 42L configuration vehicle with two strap-on liquid propellant boosters.

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

Minus 3 minutes, 30 seconds. The launch time has been loaded aboard the Ariane rocket's guidance system. Also, the Galaxy 10R spacecraft is reported to be running on internal power and ready for launch.

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

Minus-4 minutes and counting. The launch team is watching over the final topping off of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen supplies aboard the rocket's third stage.

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

Minus-6 minutes. The synchronized launch sequence has started. Computers are now in control of this final segment of the launch countdown. Liftoff still targeted for 0104 GMT (8:04 p.m. EST).

During the last six minutes, the Ariane 42L rocket, satellite payload and ground systems will be configured for launch. There are two master computers running the countdown. One is responsible for fluids and propellants and the other for final preparation of the electrical systems such as initiating the flight program, activation of the engine steering systems and power transfer from ground supplies to onboard batteries. The computers will control until minus 5 seconds when a majority logic sequencer takes over for first stage engine start at zero seconds. Engine performance checks are done in parallel by the two computers starting at plus 2.8 seconds. Finally, the command will be issued to open the launch table clamps for liftoff.

0057 GMT (7:57 p.m. EST)

Minus-7 minutes. Coming up on launch sequence start in one minute.

0055 GMT (7:55 p.m. EST)

Minus-8 minutes, 30 seconds. The weather conditions have been verified acceptable for an on-time launch.

0054 GMT (7:54 p.m. EST)

Minus-10 minutes. The countdown continues smoothly without any problems to report. The final weather update will occur momentarily. Liftoff remains set to occur at 0104 GMT (8:04 p.m. EST).

A network of tracking stations are standing ready to relay data from the Ariane 4 rocket to engineers in Kourou. The early portion of flight will be monitored through the Kourou and Cayenne stations in French Guiana. About 6 1/2 minutes into flight the Natal station in Brazil will pick up the rocket's signal as the third stage burn gets under way. At plus 12 minutes, the site on Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean will begin coverage. Libreville and Gabon will provide services for spacecraft separation and the conclusion of Arianespace Flight 126.

0049 GMT (7:49 p.m. EST)

Minus-15 minutes and counting. The countdown remains on schedule for liftoff at 0104 GMT (8:04 p.m. EST). The rocket, spacecraft and weather are go for launch.

This will be the first Arianespace launch of 2000. The European company says it could perform as many as 15 launches this year including five flights of the new Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket.

0044 GMT (7:44 p.m. EST)

Minus-20 minutes and counting. Tonight's launch will be the 15th time PanAmSat has used an Arianespace rocket to place its communications satellites into space. Earlier spacecraft launched by Ariane rockets are PAS 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 6B, 3R and 7, Galaxy 4, 6, 7 and 11, and SBS 5 and 6.

0039 GMT (7:39 p.m. EST)

Minus-25 minutes and counting. The cargo to be launched into space tonight aboard the Ariane 4 rocket is the U.S. telecommunications satellite Galaxy 10R for PanAmSat.

The craft is a replacement ordered after Galaxy 10 was lost in August 1998 launch failure of the first Boeing Delta 3 rocket. About a minute into flight, the rocket's control system failed and the Delta 3 was destroyed.

Galaxy 11 currently weighs 8,000 pounds on the launch pad. It carries 24 Ku-band and 24 C-band transponders and will have 7.8 kilowatts of power at the end of its 15-year life. The craft will be positioned at 123 degrees West to provide cable television and other telecommunications services throughout North America.

Built using a Hughes Space and Communications HS 601 HP satellite model, Galaxy 10R features such innovations as dual-junction gallium arsenide solar cells, which have the ability to convert about 22 percent of the sun's rays into electrical power, and XIPS, a xenon ion propulsion system that is 10 times more efficient than the conventional bipropellant systems.

Galaxy 10R arrived in Kourou on December 27. It underwent final testing and fueling before being encapsulation into the payload fairing. The craft was then transferred to the launch pad on January 18 and mated to the Ariane the following day.

Read about Galaxy 10R's planned uses from PanAmSat and about the HS601 HP satellite from Hughes.

0034 GMT (7:34 p.m. EST)

Minus-30 minutes and counting. The rocket is fueled, weather conditions are acceptable and all systems are go for launch of Arianespace Flight 126 in 30 minutes. The status panel in the Jupiter control center is green across the board with no problems to report tonight.

0004 GMT (7:04 p.m. EST)

The final 60 minutes are ticking off for tonight's launch of an Ariane 42L rocket and Galaxy 10R satellite. Liftoff remains set for 0104 GMT (8:04 p.m. EST). We will provide our complete live coverage beginning 30 minutes prior to launch.

1600 GMT (11 a.m. EST)

The countdown is underway in Kourou, French Guiana for tonight's launch of the Ariane 42L rocket carrying the Galaxy 10R telecommunications satellite. Arianespace officials report the available launch window has been changed from that which was previously announced. The new launch time is 0104 GMT (8:04 p.m. EST), the opening of a 35-minute window.

At the ELA-2 launch complex, workers are preparing to roll the gantry-like mobile service tower away from the rocket. That retraction is now expected to begin at about 1909 GMT (2:09 p.m. EST). The launch team will then start pumping super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into the Ariane's third stage at 2129 GMT (4:29 p.m. EST).

0501 GMT (0001 EST)

Arianespace officials completed their Launch Readiness Review on Friday and cleared an Ariane 4 rocket to boost the Galaxy 10R communications satellite into Earth orbit early next week.

Liftoff from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, South America, is planned for 0112 GMT on Tuesday (8:12 p.m. EST Monday). The launch team will have 32 minutes to get the rocket airborne or else wait 24 hours.

Friday's senior management review of the Ariane rocket, satellite payload and ground systems is a major milestone prior to launch. With no problems standing in the way of launch, engineers were given the "go" to begin arming the rocket and preparing for fueling operations.

On Saturday, storable propellant will be pumped aboard the Ariane 42L vehicle's first and second stages and twin strap-on liquid-fuel boosters. Sunday will serve as a day off before Monday's main event.

The final countdown to launch of Arianespace Flight 126 will start at 1042 GMT (5:42 a.m. EST) on Monday morning. The 321-foot tall gantry enclosing the rocket at the ELA-2 launch complex will be retracted beginning at 1917 GMT (2:17 p.m. EST). Loading of super-cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into the Ariane's third stage will commence at 2137 GMT (4:37 p.m. EST). The launch team will activate the rocket's telemetry, radar transponders and telecommand systems just over an hour before launch at 0007 GMT (7:07 p.m. EST). If there are no problems standing in the way of an on-time liftoff, officials will allow the Synchronized Launch Sequence to begin at Launch Minus-6 minutes. This computer-controlled process performs the final tasks to prepare the rocket for liftoff.

Galaxy 10R is the replacement satellite ordered after the first craft was lost in the failed Boeing Delta 3 rocket launch of August 1998. Hughes Space and Communications built both satellites for PanAmSat Corp.

The satellite will be delivered into a highly elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit by the Ariane 4 rocket. Galaxy 10R will then perform orbit raising maneuvers using its onboard kick motor, achieving a circular geostationary orbit around the Earth's equator. Controllers plan to park the satellite at 123 degrees West longitude to cover most of North America.

A Hughes HS 601HP model satellite, Galaxy 10R carries 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders that will beam television programming for PanAmSat's Galaxy cable neighborhood.

PanAmSat says Galaxy 10R will relay 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.

Arianespace Flight 126 is the first of perhaps 15 launches for Ariane 4 and 5 rockets in 2000.

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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