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Fourth Time Is The Charm For Ariane 5

The Ariane 5 accelerates away from the launch pad at Europe's Spaceport.
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Mar 11, 2006
After three postponements, an Ariane 5 rocket blasted off successfully from Europe's Spaceport at 7:32 p.m. local time Saturday - about halfway through its launch window of one hour and seven minutes. The vehicle carried the European HOT BIRD 7A and SPAINSAT telecommunications satellites.

SPAINSAT occupied the upper bay in Ariane 5's payload faring, and was deployed approximately 27 minutes into the flight. It will be operated by Hisdesat to serve the Spanish Defense Ministry as the country's first satellite dedicated to secure government communications. Its designed operating lifetime is 15 years.

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, the lower passenger on Ariane 5, separated at about 32 minutes after liftoff. The spacecraft entered Eutelsat's satellite fleet to relay television and radio broadcasting from an orbital position of 13 degrees east, placing it above Gabon. It likewise was designed for a 15-year lifetime.

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

Arianespace controllers had cancelled the Ariane 5 launch last Thursday, following a low-pressure reading in the launcher's cryogenic upper stage that was detected only four minutes before the scheduled liftoff.

At the time, Jean-Yves Le Gall, the company's chief executive officer, said launch-team members were unable to bring the pressure back to a level acceptable before liftoff, so controllers decided to stop the operations for further investigation. The problems were resolved by the Saturday launch window. The two previous postponements had occurred on Feb. 21 and Feb. 24.

The Ariane 5 ECA is the latest and considered the most powerful member of the Ariane 5 family. Its payload lift capacity is 9,600 kilograms (21,100 pounds) to geostationary transfer orbit. Liftoff mass of the HOT BIRD 7A spacecraft was 4,100 kilograms (9,000 lbs.), while SPAINSAT weighed approximately 3,680 kg (8,110 lbs).

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NASA ST5 Mission On Target For Tuesday Launch
Vandenberg AFB CA (SPX) Mar 12, 2006
NASA's Pegasus rocket loaded with the three Space Technology Mission 5 satellites has been transported from its hangar to the runway ramp area and is being mated to its Orbital Sciences L-1011 carrier aircraft in preparation for its scheduled launch on Tuesday. Technicians performed a combined systems test Saturday, including both the Pegasus and the L-1011.

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