With Indian-built satellite, Ariane set for lift-off from Kourou

December 20th, 2008 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Dec 20 (IANS) The countdown has begun for the launch of Ariane-5 rocket from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, South America, early Sunday, carrying the Indian-built European satellite W2M along with Eutelsat’s Hot Bird 9 satellite for broadcasting services, a top space official said here Saturday.The 3,462-kg W2M was designed and built at the satellite centre of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore at $80 million (Rs.4 billion) for the European satellite operator (Eutelsat) under the ISRO-EADS-Astrium alliance formed in 2006.

“The W2M is the first and heaviest satellite we have built under a commercial contract with Eutelsat through our commercial arm Antrix Corporation in 26 months. It is a good deal, as we had a 50 percent ($40 million/Rs 2 billion) margin,” ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair told IANS early this week.

Nair and a seven-member ISRO team of scientists flew to French Guiana late Thursday to witness the 3.31 a.m. (India time, IST) launch of Ariane-5 mission of the Arianespace, the commercial launch services provider of the European space consortium led by the Paris-based European Space Agency (ESA).

The satellite was shipped to Kourou from Bangalore in mid-October.

“The launch window of Ariane-5 will be kept open between 02.51 to 03.51 IST. Weather-permitting and all going well, the final countdown for the lift-off has been scheduled at 03.31 IST,” ISRO director S. Satish said.

A few minutes after the launch, the master control facility (MCF) of ISRO at Hassan, about 200 km from Bangalore, will receive the signals from W2M and monitor its orbital path till it is inserted into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) around the Earth.

The entire flight duration is likely to be 32 minutes up to final deployment, 36,000 km above the Earth.

“As per the contract, we are responsible for manning the satellite launch and its early orbital phase. The technology and sub-systems required for placing the satellite into the final geostationary orbit have been developed by our scientists and engineers at the satellite centre,” Satish affirmed.

The W2M carries 32 transponders in Ku-band as against 64 transponders in the same band by Hot Bird.

“W2M displays great flexibility to operate a wide range of services from television broadcasting to data networks and broadband. It has fixed beam coverage for Europe, North Africa and Middle East and a steerable beam which can be re-oriented in orbit according to market requirements, notably towards Africa and central Asia,” Antrix managing director Sreedhar Murthy pointed out.

According to Arianespace, the W2M, to be carried in the rocket’s lower passenger slot, will be positioned at an orbital slot of 16 degrees east. Its 32 transponders will provide both television and radio broadcasting services for Eutelsat.

“Hot Bird will be released first during the mission sequence from the rocket’s upper position stack and deployed in the orbital slot of 13 degrees East. Its 64 transponders will be used for the broadcast of digital and the new high-definition TV channels, besides interactive services,” Arianespace said in a statement.

The satellites will cover a vast area extending across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

ISRO-Antrix formed the alliance with EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space) Astrium, Europe’s leading satellite system specialist to build communication and broadcast satellites for the international market. The deal was signed Feb 20, 2006 during the visit of the then French president to India.

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