by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Aug 31, 2015
Dual payload preparations are underway for the next Ariane 5 launch, with the arrival of nbn's Sky Muster at the Spaceport and processing of the ARSAT-2 spacecraft for operator ARSAT in French Guiana.
The two telecommunications satellites are passengers for Arianespace's upcoming September heavy-lift mission, which will be the company's fifth Ariane 5 flight this year - and ninth total launch in 2015 with its complete launcher family of Vega, Soyuz and Ariane 5.
Sky Muster - a high-performance broadband satellite for Australian operator nbn - was airlifted this week to Felix Eboue Airport near Cayenne, French Guiana aboard a cargo jetliner. After its unloading process, the spacecraft was transferred by road to the Spaceport for pre-launch processing.
Weighing nearly 6,400 kg., the SSL-built (Space Systems Loral) Sky Muster is the first of two satellites for nbn that will help deliver high-speed broadband service to more than 200,000 homes and businesses around Australia - including many in rural and remote areas that do not have access to quality broadband connections.
Sky Muster's name was chosen by the winner of an Australia-wide picture drawing competition for young school children to illustrate how the new broadband network will make Australia a better country. The winning six-year-old student and her classmates selected the Sky Muster name to refer to the gathering of cattle and how the satellite will help "round-up" and connect Australians together.
In parallel activity this week, initial checkout with ARSAT-2 - including a routine "fit check" with the adapter that will serve as its interface with Ariane 5 - has begun inside the S5 payload preparation facility at the Spaceport, following the satellite's arrival in French Guiana earlier this month.
To be operated under the responsibility of ARSAT, ARSAT-2 is the second of three geostationary satellites that will increase Argentina's telecommunications capacity and guarantee the same level of connectivity quality to all of the country's regions. Arianespace successfully orbited the first of these relay platforms, ARSAT-1, on Ariane 5 Flight VA220 in October 2014.
The ARSAT series of spacecraft is produced by Argentina's INVAP, with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space serving as leading equipment suppliers.
The arrival and processing of Sky Muster and ARSAT-2 at the Spaceport are part of Arianespace's busy operational pace in 2015, which includes successful launches of four Ariane 5s, two Vegas and one Soyuz vehicle to date this year, as well as ongoing payload and launcher preparation activity for three upcoming missions: Soyuz Flight VS12, Ariane 5 Flight VA226 and Vega Flight VV06.
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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