|New Launch: 2011 September 21, 2138 UTC
|Site: Europe's Spaceport, Kourou, French Guiana
|Launcher: Ariane 5
|International Designator(s): 2011-049A, 2011-049B
"Generating an exhilarating wave of sound and light spreading miles around, an Ariane 5 rocket rose into space at sunset Wednesday with a communications satellite for the Middle East and another craft to serve commercial and U.S. government customers over North America.
"Grounded for a day by a labor dispute at the launch base, the Ariane 5 rocket ignited its clean-burning hydrogen-fueled Vulcain 2 main engine at 2138 GMT (5:38 p.m. EDT), waited seven seconds for a computer-run health check, then fired two cylindrical solid rocket boosters and climbed away from the Guiana Space Center."
"The 16-story rocket successfully released both payloads at the correct point in space, reaching an orbit ranging from 155 miles [249 km] to 22,300 miles [35,888 km] high with an inclination of 1.99 degrees, according to Arianespace, the commercial operator of the Ariane 5 vehicle."
"Arabsat 5C, a communications satellite for broadcasting and Internet services, was deployed first at the mission's 27-minute point. After a careful sequence of avoidance maneuvers, the Ariane 5's cryogenic upper stage dispatched the SES 2 payload nearly 36 minutes after liftoff.
"Both satellites will go through a series of orbit-raising burns in the coming days. The spacecraft will also unfurl their solar panels and reflectors before in-orbit testing.
"Arabsat 5C is destined for an orbital slot 22,300 miles [35,888 km] over the equator at 20 degrees east longitude. The satellite's mission is to provide broadcasting, telephony, professional communications, Internet routing, VSAT and interactive services across the Middle East and Africa.
"Astrium of France built the 10,183-pound [4,619-kg] spacecraft, while Thales Alenia Space developed Arabsat 5C's payload, which includes four deployable antenna reflectors, 26 active C-band transponders and wide-band transponders over 10 locations in Ka-band.
"Riyadh-based Arabsat procured the spacecraft to replace Arabsat 2B, which was launched in November 1996.
"Manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corp., the SES 2 satellite is heading for an operational position at 87 degrees west longitude, where its 48 C-band and Ku-band transponders will reach customers across North America.
"Ordered by SES to replenish its fleet of satellites covering North America, SES 2 is one of three virtually identical satellites built by Orbital for SES and launched in 2010 and 2011.
"The U.S. Air Force's Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload, or CHIRP, is a piggyback instrument aboard SES 2. It will demonstrate infrared detection technologies from geosynchronous orbit for missile warning applications.
"The Air Force plans to activate the CHIRP experiment about 30 days after launch, then begin an experimentation phase. It features a wide field-of-view staring sensor to pick up infrared signatures of missile plumes, explosions and fires.
"Science Applications International Corp. of Virginia designed and built CHIRP. Orbital Sciences integrated the instrument on the SES 2 spacecraft."
[Note: This launch notification was delayed pending identification by USSTRATCOM.]
Source: Spaceflight Now, "Ariane 5 rocket lights up jungle with perfect launch"
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