Arianespace’s Ariane 5 ECA flight 175 successfully launched the UK government’s Skynet 5A and Indian Space Research Organisation’s  INSAT 4B satellites from its Kourou, French Guiana launch complex into a geostationary transfer orbit at about 1900hr local time on Sunday 11 March.


Below are exclusive pictures taken of the Skynet 5A/INSAT 4B launching Ariane 5 rocket by spaceflight specialist Rob Coppinger during a visit to the Kourou launch complex in February.

The first of six Ariane 5 flights planned for 2007, the 4,700kg (10,340lb) Skynet 5A is the first of three military relay satellites that will serve UK, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and allied armed forces.

The EADS Astrium-built Skynet 5A is to be operated by Paradigm Secure Communications, which is another EADS company.
Skynet 5B is to be launched by Arianespace later this year with the 5C spacecraft, a spare, to be placed in orbit in 2008.


These pictures were taken in the 90m (295ft) tall Ariane 5 final assembly building in late February before the launcher was rolled out to the launch pad.

flight 175 Ariane 5

ISRO’s 3,000kg INSAT 4B will be dedicated to television and telecommunications services, carrying 12 Ku-band transponders and 12 C-band transponders for coverage primarily over the Indian sub-continent.

Ariane 2

These pictures were taken at the Ariane 5 ELA-3 launch pad in Kourou county, French Guiana, from which Arianespace's Skynet 5A/INSAT 4B flight 175 was launched on 11 March.

Ariane 5 launch pad

Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 launch from Kourou is another dual-payload flight planned for early May with Astra 1L for SES Astra and Galaxy 17 for Intelsat.
Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate also has a scheduled May launch that will use its Soyuz rocket to carry a cluster of four Globalstar constellation satellites from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.