An Arianespace rocket launched two communications satellites launched into orbit today (Nov. 26) in a bid to increase connectivity for mobile, civil and government customers.
The Ariane 5 launch, the fourth successful flight of Arianespace's workhorse rocket this year, lifted off from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana, at 4:23 p.m. EST (2123 GMT or 6:23 p.m. local time), "blazing a trail across the equatorial skies" on its way to deliver the two satellites into a geostationary transfer orbit, a launch commentator said during the live webcast. The two satellites on board successfully separated from the rocket's upper stage about half an hour after liftoff.
Tuesday's launch marked the 250th launch by Arianespace since 1979.
"What a journey that we have done together," Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel said after the launch.
Tiba-1, the first satellite to deploy, is a satellite for Egypt that will be used for civil and government communications. It is Egypt's first government-owned telecommunications satellite. Two companies were the prime contractors: Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space. They managed construction on behalf of the government of Egypt, which will operate the spacecraft.
Video: Ariane 5 Rocket Launches Satellites for Egypt and Inmarsat
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Arianespace pointed to Airbus' long service with Arianespace in a statement, saying this is the 127th Airbus satellite that the European launch provider has successfully launched into space. The mission, Arianespace added, "is continuing a fruitful cooperation between the two companies that extends back to Arianespace's creation in 1980."
The other satellite is Inmarsat GX5, which was built by Thales Alenia Space. GX5 is the fifth and most advanced satellite in the group of Global Xpress satellites, which are used for mobile communications.
The new satellite "will support the rapid growth in customer demand for GX services in Europe and the Middle East, particularly for aviation passenger Wi-Fi and commercial maritime services," Arianespace said. This is Inmarsat's 10th flight with Arianespace since 1981.
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Today's mission had been delayed by several days, first due to a problem with the ground support structure, then due to bad weather.
Arianespace initially planned to launch on Friday (Nov. 22) but halted the countdown about 20 minutes before liftoff when engineers identified "a power supply anomaly in the ground segment of the Ariane 5 launch complex," Arianespace officials said in a statement. A subsequent launch attempt on Monday (Nov. 25) was scrubbed again due to "unfavorable weather conditions."
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