Europe and Japan each have a new Direct-To-Home Television Satellite as an Ariane 5 Rocket blasted off and carried two satellites into orbit. Arianespace had a very successful VA203 Flight following a slightly delayed liftoff of the rocket after multiple launch postponements due to technical problems and unfavorable weather condition at the spaceport.
After an uneventful countdown, the Ariane 5 blasted off from Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA 3) in Kourou, French Guiana at 6:52:37pm EDT on August 6, 2011 - 1 hour after the actual launch window opened. The Countdown was held at T-7 Minutes to allow Weather Rules to come back inside limits for a safe launch. Weather went 'RED' due to high altitude wind violations and the team had to wait until conditions improved. The Countdown was restarted at 6:45pm EDT and computers began the synchronized sequence that configured the vehicle for blast off.
An earlier attempt to launch the two spacecraft on July 1, 2011 was scrubbed due to technical issues. A liquid Hydrogen valve had not closed properly in the Ground Support Equipment leading to the Core Booster of the rocket. This violated launch rules and the computers that were in control of the countdown stopped the clock at T-1 Minute and 47 Seconds. A decision was made to postpone the mission for several weeks to identify the cause of this problem. The Vehicle had to be returned to the Assembly Building for repairs, so that the mission was postponed for over a month.
Initially, the launch was targeted for August 5, but bad weather in the area forced the Launch Team to delay the launch by 24 hours.
The Ariane 5 rolled out to the Launch Pad from the Final Assembly Building on August 4
Following liftoff, the Ariane 5 rocket carrying 9,095kg of Payloads performed flawlessly. 27 minutes after liftoff, the ASTRA 1N satellite was released into its desired orbit over Europe. 11 Minutes later, the second and final payload, BSAT-3C, was deployed into its targeted orbit.
Today’s launch marked the 203th flight of an Ariane Launch Vehicle. It was the 59th launch of the big Ariane 5 launcher.
The ASTRA 1N is the 34th satellite from the SES group that used the European Launch Vehicle. SES operates the leading Direct-To-Home TV broadcast system in Europe. Astra satellites serve approximately 135 million households. The prime contracotr for this payload is ASTRIUM. The 6.5x2.8x3.2m satellite weighs 5,350kg and houses 52 Ku-Band transponders for TV broadcast. It’s desired orbital position is 19.2 degrees east. The satellite has a designed lifetime of 15 years.
BSAT-3C/JSAT-110R was built by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems. It will be providing direct TV broadcast for the entire country of Japan. 24 Ku-Band transponders will be sending TV signals to households in Japan after the satellite reched its orbital position of 110 degrees East. The 5.3x2.0x1.9m payload launched at a mass of 2,910kg. It’s estimated lifespan is 16 years.