Successful launch of Ariane 5 with two DirecTV broadcast satellites!

On May 27, 2015, Arianespace conducted successful launch of its Ariane 5 launch vehicle with DirecTV-15 and SKY México-1 direct-to-home (DTH) TV broadcast satellites into a geosynchronous orbit from Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

As the mission's upper passenger, DirecTV-15 was released first during the flight sequence, followed by the SYLDA 5 dual-passenger dispenser system's separation and deployment of SKY México-1.

Launch of Ariane 5 from Guiana Space Center
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On its fourth launch of the year and second with the Ariane 5 heavy launcher, Arianespace orbited DirecTV-15 for DirecTV, one of the world's leading providers of television entertainment services with more than 37 million customers in the US and Latin America, and SKY México-1 (SKYM-1) for SKY Mexico, leading Mexican pay-TV market company owned by DirecTV and Mexico's Grupo Televisa.

DirecTV-15 was the eighth satellite orbited by Arianespace for the private operator DirecTV, after its latest launch of DirecTV-14 in December 2014. Built by Airbus Defence and Space using a Eurostar-3000 platform, the spacecraft weighs about 6,200 kg at launch and is fitted with 150 travelling wave tubes (TWTs) to provide 28 active Ku-band and 25 active Ka-band/Rev-band transponders.

Artist concept of DirecTV-15 satellite in orbit. Credit: Airbus Defence and Space
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Being the most powerful TV broadcast satellite in the US, DirecTV-15 will offer new HD and 4K UHD direct TV broadcast services in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. It will be able to operate from up to five different orbital positions: 99.2° or 102.8° West in Ka-band, and at 101°, 110° or 119° in Ku-band. The satellite is the 111th payload built by Airbus Defence and Space that was launched by Arianespace.

“Someone asked me how we had the confidence to go with two satellites on the same Ariane 5, and I said: ‘Well, we couldn’t figure out a way to fit the third one in!” Philip Goswitz, Senior Vice President, Video, Space & Communications at DIRECTV

SKYM-1 satellite was built by Orbital ATK using a GEOStar-2.4E platform. It weighs about 3,000 kg at launch and is fitted with 32 travelling wave tubes (TWTs) to provide 24 active Ku-band and two active Rev-band transponders. It will be positioned at 78.8° West and will provide high-definition direct TV broadcast services for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. SKYM-1 is the 26th satellite built by Orbital ATK that was launched by Arianespace.

Artist concept of SKY Mexico-1 satellite. Credit: Orbital ATK
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The Ariane 5 flight with DirecTV-15 and SKYM-1 was designated VA223 in Arianespace's numbering system – signifying the 223rd lift-off of Ariane-series vehicles since 1979. However, the mission was only 79th flight for Ariane 5 launchers. Some other interesting statistics data can be found in Arianespace's press-release.

The next Ariane 5 mission is scheduled for July, when the vehicle is slated to orbit European MSG-4 meteorological spacecraft and Brazilian Star One C4 telecommunications satellite. Before that, Arianespace plans to conduct launch of Vega small-class rocket with Sentinel-2A payload, which is the latest in Europe's series of Earth observation satellites for the Copernicus initiative. Vega launch is scheduled for June.

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