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Ariane 5 Given Dress Rehearsal For Thursday Launch

Ariane 5 ECA moves to the launch zone with the HOT BIRD 7A and SPAINSAT satellites.
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) March 8, 2006
Technicians gave the Ariane 5 ECA heavy-lift rocket a full dress rehearsal Monday, in anticipation of Thursday's launch of its payload of two satellites.

The rehearsal, part of pre-launch preparations for every Ariane flight, brought all key mission elements into play for a simulated countdown. The complete launch team participated, including Arianespace personnel, technicians for the SPAINSAT and HOT BIRD 7A satellites, and the spaceport's launch infrastructure team, as well as meteorologists and downrange tracking station operators.

The countdown began six hours prior to the simulated liftoff, and continued through the steps leading to deployment of SPAINSAT and HOT BIRD 7A into geostationary-transfer orbit.

The exercise "enabled all participants to have a hands-on experience with the end-to-end launch procedure, including the mission's two customers and their satellite manufacturers - who monitored the status of their payloads, both from the equipment installed on-site at the Spaceport and at their home satellite control master stations," Arianespace said in a statement.

The simulation used data tapes from a previous mission, transmitted throughout the launch network, including the spaceport and the downrange tracking stations at Natal, Ascension, Libreville and Malindi. Meteorologists deployed weather balloons the launch facility to measure the temperature and winds at various altitudes above the facility. In all, about 200 personnel in French Guiana, Africa, Europe and the United States participated in the dress rehearsal.

Ariane 5's liftoff remains on schedule for Thursday evening, March 9 during a launch window that opens at 7:06 p.m. local time.

SPAINSAT is the positioned as the upper spacecraft in Ariane 5's payload stack, and will be deployed approximately 27 minutes into the flight. It will be operated by Hisdesat as the first Spanish satellite dedicated to secure government communications.

SPAINSAT was built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, Calif., and is outfitted with 13 X-band transponders, plus one Ka-band transponder. The satellite will operate from an orbital position of 30 degrees West, placing it over the Atlantic.

HOT BIRD 7A is the lower passenger on Ariane 5, and is scheduled to separate at about 32 minutes after liftoff. This spacecraft will enter Eutelsat's satellite fleet to relay television and radio broadcasting from an orbital position of 13 degrees East, placing it above Gabon.

Built in Cannes, France, by Alcatel Alenia Space, HOT BIRD 7A will be the 20th satellite launched for Eutelsat by Arianespace.

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Atlas 5 Launch Prep Proceeding At Cape Canaveral
McLean VA (SPX) March 6, 2006
Technicians at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida are preparing a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket for a launch next month to carry a European commercial television satellite into orbit.

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