Double telecommunication satellite launch breaks payload world record
Written by: Laurence Doe | Published:

The Ariane 5 launcher, specialised in sending heavy payloads into the Earth's orbit, has broken its own record by launching two telecommunication satellites, together weighing almost 11 tonnes, out of the Earth’s gravitational field.

The Echostar 18 and BRISAT satellite launch, which will enable the broadcasting television signals, transmitting of telephone, internet data and meteorology, equated to a total of 10.730 tonnes and was propelled into space from the European spaceport in Kourou – a new record for the European launcher.

The two satellites were precisely placed in a ‘transfer’ orbit, reaching a geostationary orbit using on-board propulsion systems. In this orbit, 36,000 km above the Earth, the satellites move at a speed with which they can follow the planet’s rotation exactly to enable a constant watch on the same point of the Earth and cover an area that corresponds to a third of the planet.

BRIsat is the first satellite dedicated to a financial institution and will provide both C-band and Ku-band coverage of Indonesia and South East Asia. EchoStar XVIII – based on the 1300 satellite bus produced by SSL – is the mission’s upper passenger, and it is to be orbited for operator DISH Network L.L.C. The spacecraft features a high-power multi-spot beam in the Ku-band to assure an ongoing service to DISH customers in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Echostar 18 will be operated US-based EchoStar Satellite Services, a provider of video distribution, data communications and backhaul services for media and broadcast organizations, direct-to-home providers, enterprise customers and government service providers.

The previous record of 10.5 tonnes was dates back to February 2013. EchoStar XVIII and BRIsat are the 533rd and 534th satellites launched by Arianespace.

“Yet again, Ariane 5 has demonstrated itself as a leader on the world market, which doesn’t just happen by chance,” said François Auque, head of Space Systems. “This new record is just one of the many results of the Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Safran Launchers teams’ determination to continually improve the performance and competitiveness of the European launcher.”

Airbus Defence and Space, a 50 per cent shareholder in Airbus Safran Launchers, is the main industrial partner of the Ariane 5 programme. Drawing on the expertise the company has acquired and the investments it has made for more than 10 years, Ariane 5 has become the most reliable commercial launcher on the global market and has increased its geostationary orbit payload capacity by almost two tonnes.

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