An Ariane 5 launcher lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on its mission to place two telecom satellites, Astra-5B and Amazonas-4A, into their planned transfer orbits.
Liftoff of flight VA216 occurred at 22:04 GMT (23:04 CET; 19:04 French Guiana). The target geostationary transfer orbit had a perigee altitude of 250 km, an apogee altitude of 35 736 km and an inclination of 3° to the equator.
Astra-5B, with a launch mass of 5755 kg and mounted on top of Ariane's Sylda dual payload adapter, was the first to be released 27 minutes into the mission.
Following a series of burns controlled by Ariane's onboard computer, the Sylda structure encasing the co-passenger, Amazonas-4A, was released and jettisoned. Amazonas-4A, with a launch mass of 2938 kg, was delivered into its own transfer orbit about 7 minutes and 30 seconds after Astra-5B.
Astra-5B, owned and operated by SES in Luxembourg, will be positioned at 31.5°E longitude in geostationary orbit to provide direct-to-home television broadcast, cable distribution and digital terrestrial television (DTTV) network services in Europe. It also hosts an L-band payload for Europe's EGNOS navigation system. The satellite has a design life of about 15 years.
Amazonas-4A, owned by Hispasat in Spain, will be positioned at 61°W longitude in geostationary orbit to provide a broad range of telecommunications services across South America, and has a design life of 15 years.
The payload mass for this launch was 9468 kg. The satellites totalled 8662 kg, with payload adapters and carrying structures making up the rest.
Flight VA216 was the 73rd Ariane 5 launch.
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