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Prep Begins For Next Ariane 5 Launch

The Ariane 5 accelerates away from the launch pad at Europe's Spaceport.
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Mar 13, 2006
Following the Ariane 5 ECA's successful dual-payload launch on March 11, ground teams have begun initial preparations for Arianespace's next heavy-lift launch - currently targeted for mid-May, and intended to carry the Satmex 6 and THAICOM 5 satellites.

Major elements for the upcoming launch arrived last week at Europe's Spaceport aboard Arianespace's MN Colibri transport ship. Workers unloaded the launcher components from the ship at the Pariacabo dock, and transferred them by road to the spaceport. Arianespace operates two ocean-going vessels - the MN Toucan and MN Colibri - to transport large launcher components from Europe to French Guiana.

The Satmex 6 spacecraft will be one of the most powerful telecommunications satellites to offer coverage over the Americas, Arianespace said in a statement. Built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, Calif., Satmex 6 carries with 36 C-band and 24 Ku-band transponders. Its coverage area will reach from the northern United States to southern Argentina - where it will be able to handle the strong demand expected for video, data and voice transmission services.

Satmex 6 will be operated by Satelites Mexicanos, S.A. de C.V., a satellite-services provider for Latin America.

Alcatel Alenia Space's THAICOM 5 is designed to provide telecom and television services throughout the Asia-Pacific from its orbital position at 78.5 degrees East. It will be equipped with 14 Ku-Band transponders and 24 C-Band transponders, and is to have a launch mass of around 2,800 kilograms (6,175 lbs).

Operated by Shin Satellite Inc. of Thailand, THAICOM 5 eventually will replace the company's older THAICOM 1 and 2 satellites.

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Weather Forces Postponement For ST5 Launch
Vandenberg AFB CA (SPX) Mar 13, 2006
Mission controllers have postponed for one day the launch of NASA's Pegasus rocket carrying the three Space Technology Mission 5 satellites. Hail and high winds at Vandenberg required ground technicians to take protective measures that will prevent the spacecraft and its carrier L-1011 aircraft from being ready by Tuesday's original launch time.

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