Spaceflight Now: Mission Report

100th Ariane 4 blasts off

Posted: October 29, 2000

The liquid-fueled engines of the Ariane 44LP rocket roar to life moments before the solid boosters ignite. Photo: Arianespace
A powerful telecommunications satellite that will link three continents rode into space today from the jungles of South America aboard the 100th Ariane 4 rocket.

Following a one-day postponement due to unfavorable upper altitude winds, the three-stage rocket fitted with pairs of liquid and solid propellant strap-on boosters blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff occurred at 0559 GMT (1:59 a.m. EDT), one minute before Daylight Savings Time ended in the eastern U.S.

The Ariane 4 vaulted into clear nighttime sky for the 21-minute journey across the Atlantic Ocean to deliver into orbit the first satellite for London-based Europe*Star, a joint endeavor between France's Alcatel and the American Loral Space & Communication companies. Alcatel owns 51 percent of Europe*Star with Loral holding 49 percent.

The craft was released from the Ariane launcher just off the coastline of Africa, achieving the desired looping orbit ranging from 200 to 35,955 km above the planet inclined 7 degrees to either side of the equator.

The Ariane 4 lifts off from the ELA-2 pad. Photo: Arianespace
"As you can well imagine, it is a very great pleasure to see this first baby of Europe*Star on its way," Alain Roger, president and CEO of Europe*Star, said after the launch.

The successful launch was the 58th in a row for the Ariane 4 rocket dating back five years.

"This event is the beginning of a beautiful adventure," Michel Courtois, senior vice president of Alcatel Industries, told follow guests in Kourou after the Europe*Star 1 satellite was deployed into orbit.

Indeed, the adventure has just begun. Over the coming two weeks the satellite's onboard rocket engine will be fired in a series of maneuvers to raise and circularize its altitude to a geostationary orbit. Extensive testing will then follow before the craft can enter commercial service in December from a vantage point at 45 degrees East longitude over the equator above the Indian Ocean.

Featuring 30 Ku-band transponders, the Space Systems/Loral-built satellite will deliver broadband communications services across five regions in three continents.

The rocket create a comet-like streak in the sky. Photo: Arianespace
Europe*Star 1 -- valued at about $300 million -- will provide video transmissions, direct-to-home television broadcasting, Internet access and rural telephony to Europe, the Middle East, Southern Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

A sister-satellite is being built for launch in the future.

As a member of the Loral Global Alliance, Europe*Star joins Alcatel, Loral Skynet, Satmex, Loral Skynet do Brasil and Stellat in offering fixed telecommunications around the globe.

With nine launches already under its belt in 2000, Arianespace is looking forward to two more flights in November. First up is scheduled to be the Ariane 507 launch on November 14 with PanAmSat's PAS-1R communications spacecraft, the Phase 3D amateur radio satellite and a pair of small British military research probes. An Ariane 4 will follow at the end of the month with the Canadian Anik F1 telecommunications spacecraft.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Ariane 44LP
Payload: Europe*Star 1
Launch date: Oct. 29, 2000
Launch window: 0559-0759 GMT
Launch site: ELA-2, Kourou, French Guiana

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

Ariane directory - See our previous coverage of Ariane rocket launches.