Flawless launch of Alphasat, Europe's largest and most sophisticated telecom satellite

Jul 26, 2013
Alphasat next to Alphabus platform

Alphasat, Europe's largest and most sophisticated telecommunications satellite, was launched into its planned orbit today from Kourou, French Guiana.

The Ariane 5 ECA rocket, operated by Arianespace, took off at 19:54 GMT, 21:54 CEST and delivered Alphasat into the target geostationary transfer orbit about 28 minutes later.

Alphasat's signal has been picked up by an Inmarsat ground station in Beijing as expected at 20:38 GMT (22:38 CEST), confirming that the satellite is at the predicted location, powered up and transmitting.

Alphasat is a large primarily designed to expand Inmarsat's existing global . It was engineered and built by Astrium through a public–private partnership between ESA and Inmarsat.

All the partners were present at Europe's Spaceport to watch the 6.6?tonne satellite take off.

ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Magali Vaissiere said: "Alphasat will foster the competitiveness of a European telecommunications operator, Inmarsat, associated with European industry, in a domain where the economic prospects are high.

"We are proud at ESA to have been able to bring together the energies, capabilities and resources in this enterprise."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said: "Alphasat is the successful combination of different partnerships: between ESA and the French national agency, CNES, to develop Alphabus, the satellite's platform; between two major European companies, Thales Alenia Space and Astrium; and between ESA Member States and Inmarsat.

"The latter is a rewarding public–private partnership where ESA is taking the risk to develop new technologies and Inmarsat is using these technologies to open up a new market. The qualification in orbit of the Alphabus platform and technology demonstrators on board will open doors for many more partnerships in the short-term future.

"It is an excellent example of how ESA is boosting Europe's competitiveness and growth."

Alphasat will extend Inmarsat's global broadband network, covering Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It has a lifetime of 15 years and its solar wings span 40 m.

Its advanced Integrated Processor, a core element of the commercial payload, is able to perform trillions of operations per second, providing unprecedented service flexibility.

Along with providing a significant increase in service for Inmarsat's fleet, it also serves as a first flight for Alphabus, the new European telecom platform developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space under a joint contract with ESA and France's CNES space agency.

The high-power multipurpose Alphabus platform serves the large-payload market and meets demand for increased broadcasting services. It can accommodate commercial missions with up to 22 kW of payload power and mass of up to two tonnes, and gives European industry a competitive position in the global telecom market.

Alphasat is also carrying four ESA technology demonstration payloads: an environmental and radiation testing sensor from Efacec (Portugal), the Aldo Paraboni Q/V-band experiment from Thales Alenia Space (Italy) and Space Engineering (Italy), a startracker from Jena-Optronik (Germany) and a laser communication terminal from TESAT (Germany), provided by the DLR German Aerospace Center.

Explore further: High-tech hitchhikers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

High-tech hitchhikers

Jul 25, 2013

Ready for launch tomorrow, Alphasat – Europe's largest telecommunications satellite – will serve as a testbed for advanced space technologies at the same time as it works on its day job as part of the ...

When a bus becomes a satellite

Mar 18, 2011

Alphabus has met Alphasat. Europe's largest telecom satellite is taking shape with final assembly and testing ready to begin in Toulouse, France.

ESA and Inmarsat prepare for Alphasat

Jun 20, 2007

Today at the Paris Air Show, ESA and Inmarsat moved closer to the implementation of Alphasat, the first satellite based on Alphabus, the new European telecommunications platform.

Alphasat experiences heaven on Earth

Feb 08, 2013

(Phys.org)—Tucked away in a vacuum chamber for several months, Europe's largest telecom satellite has faced the harsh conditions it will deal with once it is launched into space this summer.

First journey for Alphabus spacecraft

Feb 05, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The service module of the new Alphabus generation of telecommunication satellites has completed its first journey ? from Cannes to Toulouse, in France. The three-day trip was completed ...

EDRS space network ready to go ahead

Nov 26, 2012

(Phys.org)—The design of Europe's data relay satellite system – EDRS - has been completed and approved. This marks the moment when it moves ahead with a green light from its first customer, the Global ...

Recommended for you

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

23 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

Apr 18, 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

Apr 18, 2014

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...