African Spacecraft Launched


Another fine Ariane 5 launch from French Guiana, both variants of Thales-Alenia Space’s Spacebus 4000. The report, via Space Daily

 The 52nd launch of an Ariane 5, and the 38th successful mission in a row, clearly confirms the launcher’s reliability and availability. Arianespace’s launch Service and Solutions continue to set the global standard and guarantee independent access to space for all customers, including national and international space agencies, private firms and governments.

With this evening’s mission, Arianespace has now orbited six out of eleven commercial communications satellites launched worldwide since the beginning of the year, or more than half of the total. At the same time, Arianespace has signed nine new launch contracts for geostationary satellites to be orbited by Ariane 5, and five contracts for dedicated Soyuz launches, a new record.

NILESAT 201, based on a Spacebus 4000B2 platform, weighed nearly 3,200 kg at launch. Fitted with 24 Ku-band and four Ka-band transponders, it will provide broadband direct-to-home (DTH) television broadcast services to North Africa and the Middle East. It will be positioned at 7 degrees West and offers a design life exceeding 15 years.

RASCOM-QAF1R, based on a Spacebus 4000B3 platform, is a high-power satellite equipped with 12 Ku-band and eight C-band transponders. It weighed 3,050 kg at launch, and will offer end-of-life power of 6.6 kW. Positioned at 2.85 degrees East, its footprint will cover the entire African continent, as well as parts of Europe and the Middle East, with a design life of 15 years. It will provide communications services in rural parts of Africa, including long-distance domestic and international links, direct TV broadcasts and Internet access.

Given the lack of satcom capacity in Africa, they should fill up quickly. They may even get paid for it.