Arianespace successfully launched an Ariane 5 booster on flight V138 from Kourou on 20 December. The booster carried the Société Européenne des Satellites (SES) Astra 2D and GE Americom's GE-8 communications satellites, together with a Japanese antenna technology payload, LDREX, into a 200km (124 miles) by 35,883km, 1.99í inclination transfer orbit.

It was the 12th Arianespace launch in the year and the eighth in less than five months.

Astra 2D is SES's first Boeing 376 spin-stabilised satellite, weighing 1,414kg (3,110lb) and equipped with 16 ku-band transponders. It will be placed at 28.2° in geostationary orbit (GEO).

The satellite is the 11th craft in the SES fleet, eight of which have been supplied by Boeing. The Lockheed Martin-built GE-8 is equipped with 24 C-band transponders and will be located at 139°W.

It is a half-scale model of the large deployable antenna to be carried on the Engineering Test Satellite, ETS 8.

Source: Flight International