Ariane 5 rocket launches 2 communications satellites to orbit from South America

A European heavy-lift rocket launched two communications satellites to orbit from South America on Wednesday evening (June 22).

An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Wednesday at 5:50 p.m. EDT (2150 GMT). That was 47 minutes into the 100-minute launch window, time that France-based Arianespace took to perform some extra checks on the rocket.

The Ariane 5 — the same type of rocket that launched NASA's James Webb Space Telescope on Dec. 25, 2021 — carried two payloads on Wednesday's mission, both of them communications satellites. 

Ariane 5: Europe's heavy-lift rocket

An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket launches two communications satellites from Kourou, French Guiana, on June 22, 2022.

An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket launches two communications satellites from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on June 22, 2022. (Image credit: Arianespace)

Both satellites were deployed into geostationary transfer orbit by 40 minutes after liftoff, just as planned, Arianespace representatives said. 

One of spacecraft, called MEASAT-3d, will be operated by the Malaysian telecom company MEASAT.

"This new satellite will significantly enhance broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps [megabits per second] in areas with limited or no terrestrial network throughout Malaysia while continuing to provide redundancy and additional capacity for video distribution in HD, 4K and ultimately 8K in the Asia-Pacific region," Arianespace representatives wrote in a mission description.

The other satellite that launched on Wednesday, GSAT-24, will be operated by NewSpace India Limited.

"This satellite will provide high-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services and will meet the DTH [direct to home] needs of Indian customers," Arianespace representatives wrote.

MEATSAT-3d was built by Airbus Defence and Space and GSAT-24 was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation. The satellites have mission design lifetimes of at least 18 years and 15 years, respectively. The two payloads had a combined mass of 23,949 pounds (10,863 kilograms), according to Arianespace.

There was no rocket landing to watch for on Wednesday; the Ariane 5 is an expendable launch vehicle, unlike SpaceX's Falcon 9, which features a reusable first stage.

Wednesday's liftoff was the second of the year for Arianespace. The company's other launch in 2022 occurred in February, and it sent 34 of OneWeb's internet satellites to orbit aboard a Russian-built Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

More Arianespace-operated Soyuz flights were scheduled to launch during the first half of this year, but the partnership between the company and Russia dissolved after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 6:47 p.m. EDT on June 22 with news of successful liftoff and satellite deployment.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.  

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.