The Spaceport's launch zone welcomes Arianespace's first Ariane 5 for liftoff in 2013


The Ariane 5 for Arianespace's initial heavy-lift mission of 2013 is ready for liftoff tomorrow evening from French Guiana with a dual-passenger payload of the Amazonas 3 and Azerspace/Africasat-1a telecommunications satellites.

This vehicle was transferred from the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch zone earlier today, riding atop one of two operational mobile launch tables for Ariane 5.

Amazonas 3 is installed in the upper position of Ariane 5's payload "stack" and will be deployed first during the 36-minute mission. Produced by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California for the HISPASAT Group, the spacecraft is to operate from a 61 deg. West longitude orbital slot. The 6,265-kg.-class relay platform is equipped with 33 Ku-band and 19 C-band transponders, along with nine Ka-band spot beams, and has been designed to provide telecommunications relay services that include direct-to-home television (DTH), corporate fixed and mobile telephone networks, and broadband capacity with coverage across the Americas, Europe, and North Africa.

Positioned below Amazonas 3 in Ariane 5's payload stack is the Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellite, which weighs approximately 3,275 kg. at liftoff. It was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia, under contract to the Republic of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies for the country's national satellite operator, Azercosmos. Azerspace/Africasat-1a carries 24 C-band transponders and 12 Ku-band transponders to deliver communications coverage for Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Europe and Africa from an orbital location of 46 deg. East longitude.

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