An Arianespace heavy-lift launcher orbited Europe’s largest ever telecommunications satellite, Alphasat, and India’s latest meteorological spacecraft, INSAT-3D, Thursday on the third Ariane 5 mission of 2013.
The Ariane 5 rocket lifted off at 3:54 p.m. EDT from French Guiana, South America, for a nearly 33-minute flight into Earth orbit, which marked the launcher’s 56th consecutive successful mission. The two solid propellant boosters on the Ariane 5 separated from the vehicle at an altitude of 67 kilometers.
Deployed first in the flight sequence nearly 28 minutes after liftoff, Alphasat is configured with a new-generation L-band geo-mobile communications relay system that will provide voice and data transmission services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
With a liftoff mass of 6,650 kilograms, Alphasat was one of the heaviest passengers carried in the upper position of Ariane 5.
Some five minutes after Alphasat’s deployment, Ariane 5 completed its mission with the successful separation of INSAT-3D, which will provide enhanced meteorological observation and monitoring of land/ocean surfaces. The satellite carries a six-channel imager and 19-channel sounder, as well as a data relay transponder for satellite-aided search and rescue operations.
INSAT-3D was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
“We are looking forward to the excellent operational performance of INSAT-3D for the next seven years, making a difference for the weather forecasting and disaster warning systems for the country,” said K. Radhakrishnan, the chairman of ISRO.
Designated Ariane Flight VA214 – this mission represented the 214th launch since operations began with the Ariane series of vehicles in 1979.
Arianespace’s next launch is targeted for Aug. 29, using an Ariane 5 to orbit the Eutelsat 25B/Es’hail-1 for Es’hailSat and Eutelsat, along with GSAT-7 for the ISRO. Follow DCNewsroom on Twitter and Facebook.