The initial Ariane 5 for launch by Arianespace in 2013 has completed its basic build-up at the Spaceport, advancing preparations for a February liftoff from French Guiana with the Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1 telecommunications satellites.
This Ariane 5 was equipped with its ESC-A cryogenic upper stage and vehicle equipment bay during activity conducted yesterday inside the Spaceport's Launcher Integration Building, with the components installed as a single unit atop the cryogenic core stage. The launcher is now being readied for transfer to the Final Assembly Building, where the dual-satellite payload will be integrated.
The Azerspace/Africasat-1 payload for Arianespace's year-opening mission will provide C- and Ku-band communications services to Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Europe and Africa from an orbital location at 46 deg. East Longitude. Orbital Sciences Corporation built the Star-2-based relay platform under contract to the Republic of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies - which is the sole shareholder in the country's national satellite operator, Azercosmos.
Accompanying this Azerbaijani satellite will be Amazonas 3, produced for Spanish satellite communications operator HISPASAT and its Brazilian subsidiary, HISPAMAR Satellites. Once positioned at the 61 deg. West orbital slot, it is to provide relay capacity through 52 simultaneous transponders: 33 in Ku-band and 19 C-band, along with nine Ka-band spot beams. Amazonas 3 was built by Space Systems/Loral using an LS 1300 platform.
This mission is designated Flight VA212, signifying the 212th launch of an Ariane vehicle since the European launcher family entered service in December 1979.