The first take-off out of at least 22 more on Arianespace‘s timeline of 2020 has successfully sent a commercial European broadband satellite, as well as an Indian communications cargo to Earth’s orbit on Thursday, on an Ariane 5 rocket.
Ariane 5’s Launch
The almost 180-foot-tall (54.8 meters) rocket, launched by two solid-fueled boosters annexed on the sides and a core stage fueled by hydrogen, took off from the ELA-3 launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, at 4.05 p.m. EST.
Heading towards the east, the robust Ariane 5 exceeded the speed of sound in under a minute after it launched. The powerful boosters were discarded about two and a half minutes after take-off, and the launcher ejected its cover a few minutes later as it disappeared above the dense layers of the atmosphere.
The rocker’s Vulcain 2 main engine shut down almost nine minutes after it launched, and the first stage of it separated in order to land into the Atlantic Ocean. An HM78 engine on the second stage fueled the mission’s two satellite cargo into an oval transfer orbit, expanding for more than 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the planet.
After disabling the second stage engine on the rocket, Ariane 5 launched the Eutelsat Konnect satellite, created to generate broadband signals to people in Europe and Africa, and then deployed the Indian GSAT 30 communications probe a few minutes after.
The representatives declared the expedition a success and said that this opens the year for Arianespace. Future launches could include the debut take-offs of Europe’s enhanced Vega C rocket, which is a bigger version of the Vega launcher currently making part of the company’s fleet. Another possible launch could be Ariane 6, a next-generation launch vehicle.
More Launches Scheduled for 2020
Besides the probable launches of the Vega C and Ariane 6, Arianespace intends to support up to 12 Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega take-offs from the same location in 2020.
There are eight different flights designated to the Russian Soyuz launchers, scheduled under the support of Arianespace, and taking place at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, as well as at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia. Each rocket will be carrying more than 30 broadband satellites for OneWeb to Earth’s low orbit.
If the take-offs happen the way they were planned this year, Arianespace will send over 300 satellites to the planet’s orbit, including the OneWeb sets that Soyuz missions will carry, and a rideshare launch on a Vega vehicle transporting more than 40 small satellites.
Arianespace stated that it could carry out expeditions from up to six pads this year. Four are located at the Guiana Space Center in South America, and two others at Baikonur and Vastochny.
The Italian-designed Vega is set to restart its launches in March, with a multi-cargo commercial rideshare fight from the Guiana Space Center. Before this European expedition, Arianespace intends to launch its first complete mission for OneWeb utilizing a Soyuz booster and a Fregat first stage. The launch is set to take place on February 7th and will carry 34 OneWeb broadband satellites on board.