Arianespace's seventh and final Ariane 5 launch of 2012 has received its "green light" for liftoff with today's successful launch readiness review performed at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The review is held prior to each Ariane 5 mission, ensuring that the heavy-lift launch vehicle and its payload are flight-ready, along with the Spaceport's infrastructure and the network of downrange tracking stations.
This approval clears the way for Ariane 5's rollout tomorrow from the Final Assembly Building to Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 at the Spaceport - positioning it for liftoff on Wednesday, December 19 during a launch window that opens at 6:49 p.m. and continues to 8:08 p.m., local time in French Guiana.
This flight will orbit a dual-passenger payload of the Mexsat Bicentenario telecommunications satellite for the Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transport, along with the Skynet 5D secure military communications relay platform for the European operator Astrium Services, on behalf of the British Ministry of Defence.
Skynet 5D was built by Astrium Satellites of Stevenage, England, and will be the 38th military payload lofted by the Ariane launcher family. Weighing approximately 4,800 kg. at launch and based on the Eurostar E3000 platform, it has an expected lifetime of 15 years and will be the 89th Astrium satellite launched by Arianespace. The spacecraft has a design lifetime of 16 years and weighs an estimated 2,935 kg. for liftoff. It will be positioned in geostationary orbit at 114.9 deg. West to provide communication services to Mexico and its surrounding waters.
Mexsat Bicentenario was built by the Virginia, U.S.-based Orbital Sciences Corporation, based on its GEOStar-2 platform. This will be the fifth Mexican satellite launched by Ariane and the 23rd Orbital-built satellite to be transported by Arianespace. The spacecraft has a design lifetime of 16 years and weighs about 3,000 kg. for liftoff. It will be positioned in geostationary orbit at 114.9 deg. West to provide communication services to Mexico and its surrounding waters.
This year-ending Ariane 5 mission is designated VA211 in Arianespace's flight numbering system, signifying the 211th Ariane family liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana. Its total payload performance is approximately 8,635 kg. - which includes the two satellite passengers and their integration hardware for Ariane 5's dual-payload deployment system.