Tag Archives: Arianespace

Space news catchup! Vega, Blue Origin, GOES-16’s lightning mapper, and more!

It’s been really busy lately, so I haven’t has as much time to post as I’d like.  So today I will make up for it with a bunch of space news updates!

First off, a rocket launch is always fun.  Arianespace’s Vega launcher placed the Sentinel 2B environmental monitoring satellite into orbit from Kourou, French Guiana:

Meanwhile, GOES-16 continues its commissioning phase.  As part of that, it has returned its first view of lightning from 22,000 miles away, a demonstration of its incredible capacity at this range.  The green lines represent the coast of Texas.  The lightning is all in real time, and is overlaid over an image taken at the same time by GOES-16’s revolutionary Advanced Baseline Imager.

This full-disk image was created from data from the same instrument, and shows total lightning energy recorded over a one-hour period (an hour which included the image above; that really bright spot in this image is the same storm system over Texas):

And then let’s go back to rockets!  Blue Origin unveiled their New Glenn rocket today with an animation depicting its flight profile.  It is definitely similar to the strategy SpaceX is using, but one difference is that the engine, BE-4, will also by flying on another rocket, ULA’s Vulcan.  Another difference is the strakes.  It looks quite lovely, and I hope we’ll get to see it fly soon.  They do already have a customer for it: the first flight customer will be Eutelsat.

And then, how about some good news on the political front?  Cutting NASA has long been a bipartisan pasttime, but the tides seem to be changing.  A strong bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted to pass the NASA Authorization Bill, the first time they’ve managed to do so despite annual attempts in the past six years.  (NASA has been operating under continuing resolutions instead.)  This bill budgets $19.5 billion for NASA in 2017.  Of course, now we have to see what actually gets appropriated; that’s a separate battle, and will start with the White House federal budget request.  So cross your fingers, space geeks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Space

Another successful Ariane V mission: Sky Brasil-1 and Telkom-3S

Just a few hours ago, Arianespace racked up their first heavy launch of the year, sending a dual-payload Ariane V with two geosynchronous commsats aboard from Kourou, French Guiana.  The payloads are Sky Brasil-1, to serve customers in Brazil, and Telkom 3S, to serve customers in Indonesia.  This was the ninety-first Ariane V mission overall.  The rocket has enjoyed a strong record, with only two failures and two partial failures out of 91 flights, and it has had no failures of any kind in the last seventy-six missions.

Next flight of 2017 will be a PSLV from India, to launch in just a few hours with a big mapping satellite and a veritable horde of 103 smallsats.  I will write about it tomorrow.  😉

Leave a comment

Filed under Space

Soyuz flies to geosynchronous orbit

Soyuz has just completed its first launch to geosynchronous transfer orbit from Kourou, French Guiana, carrying Hispasat 36W-1, a commercial Spanish commsat, to space.  Normally, Ariane V would have been used for the flight, but the mighty rocket is booked out for a few years; Hispasat got to fly much sooner by selecting the Soyuz.

Other than the very distinctive conical shape of the rocket with its unique booster configuration, Soyuz has another feature distinguishing it from the other boosters that fly from Kourou — its bright orange plume.  All the other vehicles that fly from here include solid propellant — Vega’s first three stages are purely solid, and Ariane V features a pair of large solid rocket motors.  But Soyuz is all kerosene and LOX, so the plume is bright and short.

There is one intriguing difference to Soyuz operations out of Kourou — although the rocket is assembled horizontally, per its design, the payload is integrated vertically, per normal Arianespace operations and per the requirements of the payload.  (Russia has always favored horizontal integration, but the rest of the world generally favors vertical integration.  As with every engineering decision, there are trade-offs, and neither choice is fundamentally “right”.)  So the rocket rolls to the pad without a payload, and then the payload is added.  Arianespace released this lovely video showing the highlights of vehicle assembly:

Leave a comment

Filed under Space

Successful launch of Göktürk-1A for Turkey on Vega

It’s been busy, so I missed posting this yesterday.  😉  This launch used Arianespace’s lightweight launcher, the all-solid-propellant Vega:

 

Meanwhile, India is presently in the final stages of PSLV launch preparations; I hope to post a successful launch video for them as well sometime tomorrow.  (If all goes well, that rocket will fly in just over an hour from now.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Space

Ariane & New Shepard both fly!

Ariane V completed another flawless mission from Kourou, French Guiana yesterday, placing into orbit Sky Muster 2 for Australia and GSAT 18 for India.  Both are geosynchronous commsats, the mainstay of Ariane V’s customer base.

And also yesterday, Blue Origin completed the fifth flight of their New Shepherd reusable suborbital rocket.  This flight did continue to test the rocket, but that wasn’t the main focus.  This mission was an inflight abort test.  The booster did not simulate an emergency; after the spacecraft separated, it continued merrily along its way (albeit at lower thrust to compensate for the loss of mass) and returned neatly to Earth on its own.  The escape looked a bit, well, “blarg-tastic” is the word that came to mind for me, as it yawed around dramatically.  I would bet that Blue Origin will be studying the data from sensors inside to make sure G-loads didn’t exceed human tolerance; the point of an escape isn’t to be comfy, but to be survivable.  Nevertheless, this fifth flight is expected to be the final flight for this particular vehicle.

Leave a comment

Filed under Space

Intelsat’s first double-launch, aboard Ariane V

The venerable and highly reliable Ariane V roared into space from Kourou, French Guiana yesterday, carrying two Intelsat payloads to geosynchronous transfer orbit.  Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 36 were released into the desired trajectories on the first double-launch for one of the world’s oldest commercial satellite operators.  These new satellites are in Intelsat’s “Epic” class and are intended to expand Intelsat’s market from traditional satellite users (a market they presently dominate in the Western Hemisphere) to mobile users (a market presently dominated by Inmarsat).  Epic spacecraft have cutting-edge capabilities for rapid adjustments in the bandwidth available depending on need, making them far more capable than their predecessors in the market.

As far as Arianespace is concerned, it was one more successful launch:

Leave a comment

Filed under Space

Going Up and Coming Down: Ariane V’s heaviest load, and Soyuz TMA-19M Returns

Two big spaceflight events today.  😉  Ariane V blasted off from Kourou in French Guiana, carrying EchoStar 18 andBRISat.  Combined, they represented the heaviest payload ever launched by the mighty Ariane V.  EchoStar 15 will serve DISH television customers in the United States, while BRISat will provide secure satellite communication links for financial transactions in Indonesia, a nation distributed across many islands and therefore heavily dependent on radio communications.

And on the other side of the planet, Soyuz TMA-19M descended to the plains of Kazakhstan.  The descent was nominal.  The three crew are in good health: Yuri Malenchenko (Ukrainian, flying for Russia), Tim Kopra (United States) and Tim Peake (United Kingdom, flying for ESA).  It’s kind of a noisy replay; I assume that’s noise from the recovery helicopter that is carrying the camera.  You can jump to 5:20 if you want to see the soft landing thrusters fire.

Leave a comment

Filed under Space