After a one day delay caused by ground winds preventing the launch vehicle assembly being rolled out of hte lanch pad, it was all systems go for the latest flight of Ariane 5 ECA. The rocket launched from the Kourou launch site in French Guiana at 2204 GMT on 22 March carrying two commercial communications satellites aboard: ASTRA 5B for the Luxembourg-based satellilte operator SES, and Amazonas 4A for the Spanish operator Hispasat.
ASTRA 5B was built by Airbus Space & Defense using a Eurostar 3000L bus/platform and weighed 5,724 kg at launch. Operating from its planned 31.5 degrees East position in GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit) the satellite’s communications payload is fitted 40 Ku and 6 Ka-band transponders (36 MHz equivalents), will provide DTH television broadcast, cable distribution and digital terrestrial television (DTTV) network services in Europe and Africa. ASTRA 5A also hosts an L-band payload for the European geostationary navigation overlay system, EGNOS. ASTRA 5B has a design life of 15 years.
Amazonas 4A was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation using a GeoStar-2 platform, and weighed 2,938 kg at launch. It is equipped with 24 active Ku-band transponders. This satellite will provide a broad range of telecommunications services across all of South America, in particular addressing the growth in demand expected because of the 2014 Football World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, both organized in Brazil. It has a design life of 15 years.