Another successful dual launch: Arianespace orbits AMAZONAS-2 & COMSATBw-1 – 33rd successful Ariane 5 launch in a row
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On Thursday evening, October 1, Arianespace boosted two payloads into geostationary transfer orbit: the AMAZONAS-2 civil communications satellite for the Spanish operator Hispasat, and the COMSATBw-1 military communications satellite, built by Astrium for the German Ministry of Defense.
47th Ariane 5 launch, 33rd success in a row
The latest successful launch of an Ariane 5, the fifth in 2009, confirms that Arianespace’s launch Service & Solutions continue to set the global standard for the world’s leading space communications operators, both civil and military. This launch also once again illustrates the strategic importance of Ariane, which guarantees European governments independent access to space.
Ariane 5 is the only commercial launcher in service today capable of simultaneously launching two payloads, to deliver outstanding performance, flexibility and competitiveness to all Arianespace customers.
This was the 47th launch of an Ariane 5 and the 33rd successful launch in a row.
A launch for civil and military communications operators
AMAZONAS-2 is the fifth Spanish satellite launched by Arianespace. The European launcher boosted the Hispasat 1A and 1B satellites in 1992 and 1993; then in 2005 and 2006 Hispasat and subsidiary Hisdesat called on Arianespace to launch their XTAR-Eur and Spainsat satellites.
COMSATBw-1 is the 32nd military payload lofted by Ariane. Astrium chose Arianespace to launch the two military communications satellites, COMSATBw-1 and COMSATBw-2, as part of a satellite communications system deployed by the German Ministry of Defense represented by IT-AmtBw. COMSATBw-2 will be launched in 2010.
AMAZONAS-2 and COMSATBw-1 mission at a glance
The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:59 pm local time in Kourou (5:59 pm in Washington, D.C., 21:59 UT, 11:59 pm in Paris and on Friday, October 2, 1:59 am in Moscow).
AMAZONAS-2 was built by Astrium using a Eurostar E3000 platform. Weighing 5,400 kg at liftoff, this powerful satellite is equipped with 54 active Ku-band transponders and 10 C-band transponders. It will provide a wide range of telecommunications services to Brazil, as well as to North and South America in general. AMAZONAS-2 has a design life of 15 years and will be positioned in geostationary orbit at 61 degrees West.
COMSATBw-1, weighing 2,500 kg at launch and offering a design life of 15 years, will cover an area extending from the Americas to the Far East. DLR will assume responsibility for operating the two satellites using several of its locations.The Bundeswehr is acquiring its own military communications satellites for the first time and laying the foundations for a secure information network for use by units on deployed missions outside Germany. The network will support the autonomous, global transmission of audio and data as well as video and multimedia applications. Astrium is responsible for the space segment and will place the satellites in orbit. Thales Alenia Space has designed, manufactured, integrated, tested and delivered on-ground the satellite to Astrium. Astrium’s German subsidiary TESAT manufactured the essential parts of the payload.
2 firm Vega C launches and one option to deploy future Earth observation constellation IRIDE.
3 launches to be scheduled from late 2025 onwards.
Vega C backlog boosted to 15 firms launches, demonstrating yet again the competitiveness of the new European light launcher.
On March 14, Arianespace announced having signed with ESA, who is acting on the behalf of the Italian government, for the procurement of two Vega C launches. The contract also includes an option for a third dedicated launch. These launches, scheduled for the last quarter of 2025 onwards from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), will support the deployment of the future Earth Observation constellation IRIDE.
“I would like to thank the Italian government, along with the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency ASI, to entrust Arianespace to deploy the state-of-the-art Earth Observation constellation IRIDE with Vega C,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “To support implementation of such constellations projects, pivotal to a better understanding of the Environment changes at a global scale and to improving life on Earth, is at the core of our mission and we are particularly excited to be part of this adventure.”
This new contract also demonstrates the versatility and competitiveness of the new European light launcher Vega C, whose backlog has now grown to 15 launches. The Vega C is an upgraded variant and is perfectly suited to serve the Earth observation market because of its higher performance and versatility. The Vega C is an ESA program carried out in cooperation between public institutions and private industry across 12 European partner states. AVIO SpA (Colleferro, Italy) is the prime contractor of Vega C, responsible for the development of the launcher system and delivering to Arianespace a launcher “ready-to-fly” at the Guiana Space Center.
“The Italian government has requested the European Space Agency to assist in the implementation of the ambitious IRIDE Earth Observation programme, funded by the PNRR” – declared Simonetta Cheli, director of the Earth Observation Programmes at the European Space Agency. “The first major programme milestone – set for end of March 2023 – is approaching and with this contract ESA repays the trust of the Italian government while confirming its confidence in Arianespace and in the Vega C launch system. IRIDE represents a unique growth opportunity for the entire Italian space ecosystem.”
IRIDE is an end-to-end system composed of constellations of LEO satellites (Upstream Segment), the ground-based Operations infrastructure (Downstream Segment) and a range of Services to be delivered to the Italian Public Administration (Service Segment). The constellation will be based on different sensing techniques and technologies, encompassing Synthetic Aperture Radars, SAR, imaging as well as optical imaging, from medium to high resolution and in many different frequency ranges.
With institutional purposes primarily, the IRIDE constellation will be used to support the Civil Protection and other State institutions to implement measures against hydro-geological instability, to protect the coastline and prevent fires, to monitor critical infrastructures, air quality, and weather conditions.
IRIDE is an initiative of the Italian government. With an investment of approximately 1.1 billion euros, the new constellation will be completed within five years. The European Space Agency is providing assistance to this Italian national project and is implementing the procurement actions on behalf of the Italian government.
On Tuesday 20 December 2022, Arianespace announced the loss of the Vega C VV22 mission after its launch at 22h47 local time in French Guiana (2h47 CET/1h47 GMT on 21 December 2022). The mission was carrying two payloads, Pléiades Neo 5 and 6 Earth observation satellites for Airbus Defence and Space.
Arianespace (the launch service provider) and the European Space Agency (ESA – the launch system development authority) immediately set up an Independent Enquiry Commission, which concluded that after the nominal functioning of the Vega-C first stage P120C and nominal ignition of the second stage (Zefiro 40), a progressive decrease in the chamber pressure was observed 151 seconds after lift-off, leading to the loss of the mission.
Initial investigations, conducted right after the launch with the available flight data, confirmed that the launcher’s sub-systems reacted to the events as designed, and that the cause of the failure was a gradual deterioration of the Zefiro 40’s nozzle. More precisely, the Commission confirmed that the cause was an unexpected thermo-mechanical over-erosion of the carbon-carbon (C-C) throat insert of the nozzle, procured by Avio in Ukraine. Additional investigations led to the conclusion that this was likely due to a flaw in the homogeneity of the material.
The anomaly also revealed that the criteria used to accept the C-C throat insert were not sufficient to demonstrate its flightworthiness. The Commission has therefore concluded that this specific C-C material can no longer be used for flight. No weakness in design of Zefiro 40 has been revealed. Avio is implementing an immediate alternative solution for the Zefiro 40’s nozzle with another C-C material, manufactured by ArianeGroup, already in use for Vega’s Zefiro 23 and Zefiro 9 nozzles.
Considering the nature of the VV22 anomaly, the Commission emphasizes that its conclusions on Zefiro 40 do not affect the Vega launcher which is relying on the Zefiro 23 and Zefiro 9 motors. In this context, Arianespace decided to adapt its launch schedule to reassign a mission to one of its two remaining Vega launchers with a targeted launch date before the end of summer 2023.
The Independent Inquiry Commission has formulated a series of recommendations aiming at restoring confidence in the Vega and Vega C launcher systems through the establishment of robust recovery plans to ensure a reliable return to flight and robust commercial exploitation.
The main strands of work based on the recommendations are:
To complement the findings of the Commission with additional testing and analysis in order to ensure the robustness of the qualification of the alternative C-C material selected for Zefiro 40;
To implement an additional qualification phase of the Zefiro 40 engine with the alternative C-C material;
To implement a set of actions, aiming at guaranteeing a long-term reliable and sustainable launcher production.
A task force steered by ESA and Arianespace has started implementing the roadmap proposed by the Commission and will thoroughly follow the implementation of the actions by Vega’s prime contractor Avio, in order to ensure a reliable and robust Vega C’s return to flight. The targeted launch date is end of 2023.
ESA, as launch system qualification authority, Arianespace, as launch service provider and Avio, as design authority and prime contractor of the Vega launcher, will join their efforts to achieve the common objective of a robust exploitation of the Vega launch system, for the benefit of their institutional and commercial customers.
Josef Aschbacher, ESA Director General, said: "The Independent Enquiry Commission stands for ESA’s commitment to the highest safety standards. It has drawn a set of recommendations that once implemented should ensure a robust, reliable return to flight of the Vega C launcher.
ESA will fully engage its engineering and project management expertise to support Avio in the implementation of actions required to regain confidence in the launcher system. Restoring Europe’s independent access to space is ESA’s priority, and I am therefore glad that we can proceed with Vega launch campaigns while preparing Vega C to safely return to flight."
“Thanks to their hard work, the members of the Commission have identified the immediate cause of the loss of the mission VV22 and its lessons learnt, and proposed the relevant corrective actions,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “Their recommendations are already under implementation by Avio, under the supervision of Arianespace and ESA, in order to allow a successful return to flight of Vega C and to guarantee its continuous reliability.”
Arianespace uses Space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited over 1,100 satellites since 1980. Arianespace is responsible for operating the new-generation Ariane 6 and Vega C launchers, developed by ESA, with respectively ArianeGroup and Avio as industrial primes. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the Ariane and Vega European launcher industry, and ESA and CNES as censors.
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world
ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia are Associate Members.
ESA has established formal cooperation with four Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.
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For further information:
ESA Newsroom and Media Relations Office – Adelina Campos de Carvalho