Year's final Ariane 5 launch to carry two Eutelsat craft
BY STEPHEN CLARK
Posted: October 8, 2008
The unavailability of a U.S.-built communications satellite will cause Arianespace to miss its goal of a record seven Ariane 5 launches this year, company officials said Tuesday.
But NSS 9 encountered issues that threatened its scheduled arrival at the Arianespace launch site in French Guiana. The delay means Arianespace will only have time to complete six launches this year, said Mario de Lepine, an Arianespace spokesperson.
Arianespace now plans eight Ariane 5 launches next year, plus the debut flights of the Soyuz and Vega rockets from Kourou, French Guiana, de Lepine said.
NSS 9, a C-band communications satellite, will serve broadcasters and maritime users from the Asia-Pacific to the United States.
The spacecraft is being built by Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Va.
"It's near completion and we intend to be ready to ship shortly," said Barry Beneski, an Orbital spokesperson.
Beneski declined to give further details in deference to the customer. Messages to SES New Skies officials were not returned.
Eutelsat, a leading European satellite operator, will now launch two satellites on Flight 186, which is now expected to blast off in late November. Hot Bird 9 will be joined by the W2M spacecraft.
The combination of the two Eutelsat spacecraft means a pair of French military optical early-warning satellites will not be launched aboard Flight 186. The additional weight of the new payload left no extra room for the piggyback mission, de Lepine said.
The French payload, named Spirale, will probably launch on the Ariane 5's first mission in 2009, officials said.
The November launch will mark the first time Eutelsat has launched two of its own satellites on the same rocket.
Eutelsat studied the risk of flying both satellites on a single launcher and managers approved the unusual move, said Vanessa O'Connor, a Eutelsat spokesperson.
"(This) is being taken as an opportunity to accelerate the launch of W2M and ensure timely delivery of Hot Bird 9," O'Connor said. "These satellites have distinct missions for two different orbital positions."
Eutelsat reached a new spacecraft insurance agreement in April, giving the company "maximum flexibility" in deploying new satellites, according to a financial statement released by the company in May.
O'Connor said insurance for W2M and Hot Bird 9 was covered under the April agreement.
Eutelsat will use W2M's capacity to provide digital broadcasting services to customers from Europe to the Indian Ocean.
W2M was built by a partnership between EADS Astrium and the Indian Space Research Organization. It will be transported from India to French Guiana by the middle of October, according to Eutelsat.
Hot Bird 9 will broadcast programming to satellite and cable television households across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. It arrived at the launch site from an EADS Astrium factory in September, Eutelsat officials said.