On September 30, 2015, Arianespace conducted successful launch of Ariane 5 launch vehicle carrying two communications satellites – Sky Muster for Australian operator NBN and ARSAT‑2 for Argentinian operator ARSAT – into a geosynchronous transfer orbit from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.
Flight VA226 (226th launch of Ariane family rocket) was the 9th launch this year for Arianespace, which is pursuing a corporate record of 12 missions in 2015. Sky Muster and ARSAT-2 were the 517th and 518th satellites launched by Arianespace since 1980.
Built by Space Systems/Loral (SSL) using its 1300 platform, Sky Muster is the 52nd GEO-satellite built by SSL (and predecessor companies) and orbited by Arianespace. Holding a top-position within the dual launch, it weighs 6,440 kg at liftoff and has 202 Ka-Band transponders to deliver broadband services to more than 200,000 rural and remote Australians, as well as citizens of Norfolk, Christmas, Macquarie and Cocoa islands.
Its second satellite National Broadband Network (NBN) of Australia - a service provider owned by the Commonwealth of Australia - also ordered to launch on Ariane 5. Notably, Arianespace has 12 more SSL satellites in its backlog to be launched.
ARSAT 2 was the second satellite orbited by Arianespace for the Argentine operator ARSAT (Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anónima), following the successful launch of ARSAT-1 on October 16, 2014. It weighs 2,977 kg and is fitted with 26 Ku-Band and 10 C-band transponders.
Built by Argentinian organization INVAP with Europe's Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space as leading equipment suppliers, this satellite will provide services for the Americas including direct-to-home (DTH) TV broadcasting, Internet access, data transmissions and IP telephony.
Hours prior the launch ARSAT signed a contract with Arianespace to launch its next geostationary satellite, ARSAT-3, plus options on two more launches. With a liftoff mass of approximately 3,000 kg, ARSAT-3 will be launched on Ariane 5 into a geostationary transfer orbit in 2019. The two options involve two geostationary satellites similar to ARSAT-3, launches of which are planned for 2020-2023 timeframe.
"We are especially proud of our mission success for two regional operators in the southern hemisphere, NBN and ARSAT... Ariane family can celebrate a real ‘Triple A’ achievement this evening for Australia, Argentina and Arianespace. Thanks go to our clients for their confidence, and bravo to SSL and INVAP for their contributions to this success." Stéphane Israël, Arianespace Chairman and CEO
VA226 flight marked the 82nd mission overall using Ariane 5 workhorse launcher, as well as the 68th consecutive Ariane 5 success. Arianespace's mission pace will continue with next two flights to be performed during November: a heavy-lift Ariane 5 launch with the Arabsat-6B and GSAT-15 payloads (Flight VA227); and a mission with the light-lift Vega carrying Europe's LISA Pathfinder (Flight VV06).