By Tim Furniss in London

Ariane 5 ECAW167
© Arianspace

The latest launch and mission of an Ariane 5 ECA was a success

Arianespace launched its heaviest payload yet from Kourou, French Guiana on 27 May. An Ariane 5 ECA carried the Satmex 6 and Thaicom 5 communications satellites and associated payload systems, with a combined weight of over 8,260kg (6,170lb), into geosychnronous transfer orbit.

The 5,400kg Space Systems/Loral-built Satmex 6, with 36 C-band and 25 Ku-band transponders, will be operated by Satelites Mexicanos, while Thaicom’s fifth satellite, built by Alcatel Alenia Space, weighed in at 2,800kg and carries 25 C-band and 14 Ku-band transponders. The satellites will be located at 113˚W and 78.5˚E in geosynchronous orbit, respectively.

Boeing’s Delta IV launch vehicle returned to flight just a few days earlier, with a launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on 24 May carrying GOES-N, the first of three new-generation meteorological satellites for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Using a Delta IV Medium, it was the first launch since December 2004 when the maiden flight of a Delta IV Heavy booster from Canaveral on a demonstration mission was marred by a faulty fuel sensor.

The next Ariane 5 mission, by another ECA, is scheduled for August, carrying the Syracuse 3B and JCSAT 10 communications satellites. The next Arianespace launch will be made by affiliate company Starsem on 17 July, from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, carrying Eumetsat’s MetOp 1 meteorological satellite.

Boeing, meanwhile, has four military launches of the Delta IV manifested, carrying three US National Reconnaissance Office satellites and a Defence Support Programme early warning satellite. Two will use the Heavy version, but the next launch will be by a Delta IV Medium, on the first launch from Vandenberg AFB in California, no earlier than 27 June.

Source: Flight International