First Spacebus Neo Satellite Launched Aboard Ariane 5 Rocket

Ariane 5 Liftoff

On 16 January 2020, Ariane 5 flight VA251 lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana and delivered two telecom satellites, Konnect and GSAT-30, into their planned orbits. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Vidéo du CSG

Ariane 5’s first launch of 2020 has delivered two telecom satellites, Konnect and GSAT-30, into their planned transfer orbits. Arianespace announced liftoff at 21:05 GMT (22:05 CET, 18:05 local time) this evening from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Konnect, with a launch mass of 3,619 kg (7,979 lb), was the first to be released after about 27 minutes.

Konnect Satellite Placed in Fairing

The Konnect satellite is placed within the fairing. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

Konnect will provide broadband services for Europe and Africa and has a design life of 15 years. It was built by Thales Alenia Space for Eutelsat, its commercial operator, and is the first satellite from the new Spacebus Neo product line developed under an ESA Partnership Project managed jointly by ESA and the French Space Agency, CNES.

ESA Partnership Projects such as Neosat federate European industry around large-scale programs, developing innovative cutting-edge solutions in partnership with private or public partners. This approach allows European prime contractors and equipment suppliers to be competitive on the world commercial market.

Konnect Satellite Before Launch

The Konnect satellite is sent for encapsulation ahead of launch. Credit: ESA

The Spacebus Neo platform is the result of a European-wide cooperation with contributions from 17 Member States, with more than 90% of the platform sourced in Europe.

So far, eleven Neosat satellites have already been sold, seven of which are Spacebus Neo. Through those recurring sales the ESA Partnership Project has generated an exceptional return on investment to the program’s Participating States and their industries.

The second satellite – the 3,357 kg (7,401 lb) GSAT-30 – was released 11 minutes after Konnect. Owned and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO, GSAT-30 will provide high-quality television, telecommunications, and broadcasting services over the Indian mainland and islands. The satellite has a design life of more than 15 years.

Overall the performance requested for the launch was about 7,888 kg (17,390 lb). The satellites totaled about 6,976 kg (15,379 lb), with payload adapters and carrying structures making up the rest.

Flight VA251 was the 107th Ariane 5 mission.

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