Good Orbit for Badr-7 & GSAT-15 after on-target Ariane 5 Launch

Photo: Arianespace/ESA/CNES
Photo: Arianespace/ESA/CNES

The closing mission of 2015 for Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket delivered its two payloads to an on-target orbit as evident in orbital data released by the Joint Space Operations Center. Ariane 5 lifted off from the Guiana Space Center on Tuesday at 21:34 UTC, carrying the Badr-7 and GSAT-15 satellites to an optimized Geostationary Transfer Orbit.

Rumbling into the dark skies over the Amazon, Ariane 5 swung to its due-easterly ascent path taking the vehicle across the Atlantic Ocean in less than 20 minutes. With its two boosters, Ariane 5 had a total launch thrust of nearly 1,500 metric-ton force, making for a quick initial ascent. The twin boosters separated from the vehicle two minutes 23 seconds into the flight leaving Ariane 5 powered by its cryogenic Vulcain 2 engine that continued firing until T+8 minutes and 54 seconds. Handing off to the second stage, Ariane 5 was set for a burn of its HM-7B engine just shy of 16 minutes, aiming for an insertion point 667 Kilometers in altitude and an injection velocity of 9.34 Kilometers per second.

>>Read our Launch Update

The VA227 mission targeted an orbit of 247 by 35,786 Kilometers at an inclination of 4.0° and the rocket’s onboard navigation system detected the following orbital parameters at injection:

Perigee: 246.9 km – Apogee: 35,884 km – Inclination: 3.99°

Tracking data became available overnight for the four objects deployed to orbit on this mission (2 satellites, Ariane ESC-A second stage & Sylda payload adapter):

2015-065A – 264.1 x 35,717 km – 3.96°
2015-065B – 259.8 x 35,750 km – 3.96°
2015-065C – 268.0 x 35,759 km – 3.96°
2015-065D – 264.5 x 35,799 km – 4.03°
Photo: Arianespace/ESA/CNES
Photo: Arianespace/ESA/CNES

After spacecraft separation 43 minutes into the flight, both satellites were successfully acquired by their respective ground stations and started their initialization sequences in orbit. Both will begin orbit-raising maneuvers late on Wednesday to start their climb towards Geostationary Orbit. Badr-7 is aiming for an orbital position at 26° East while GSAT-15 will be located further east at 92.35°.

Badr-7, built by Airbus Defence and Space, stands 8.5 meters tall and had a launch mass of 5,798 Kilograms based on the Eurostar 3000 satellite platform. Operated by Arabsat, the spacecraft will be co-located with the other operational Badr satellites to form a video hot-spot in orbit. Badr-7 hosts 27 Ku-Band transponders plus a Ka-Band communications payload to deliver broadcast, broadband and telecommunications services to the Middle East and North and Central Africa.

>>Badr-7 Overview

Photo: Arianespace/ESA/CNES
Photo: Arianespace/ESA/CNES

GSAT-15, built and operated by the Indian Space Research Organization, will join the GSAT fleet that has been in operation since the early 2000s to deliver a variety of communications services to India. With a mass of 3,100 Kilograms, GSAT-15 is equipped with 24 Ku-Band transponders that will serve the Indian territory, providing Direct-to-Home television services and supplying comm services to very small aperture terminal (VSAT) operators. The satellite also hosts a GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation for Safety of Life (SOL) operations benefiting the civil aviation services.

>>GSAT-15 Overview

Coinciding with the successful launch of GSAT-15, the Indian Space Research Organization announced that it selected Arianespace for the launch of GSAT-17 and 18 aboard the Ariane 5 launch vehicle in 2016 and 2017.

Intelsat-29e during Assembly - Photo: Intelsat
Intelsat-29e during Assembly – Photo: Intelsat

The two satellites will each weigh 3,400 Kilograms and host communications payloads operating in the C-Band, extended C-Band and Ku-Band frequencies. Adding two small GEO satellites to Ariane’s manifest is a welcome opportunity for Arianespace since payloads that can ride in the lower berth of the Ariane 5 had been hard to find in recent months.

Due to the lack of smaller satellites that could ride into orbit beneath the Sylda adapter, Ariane 5 will conduct two single-payload missions to open 2016. Set for launch in late January is Intelsat 29e, a six metric-ton satellite built by Boeing, to be followed by Eutelsat 65 West A, weighing in at 6,600 Kilograms. Intelsat and Eutelsat decided to foot the bill for an entire Ariane 5 launch vehicle to advance their launches by several months, forgoing the trouble of waiting for a smaller co-passenger to be ready.