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Arianespace plans India satellite launch

 - June 18, 2013, 12:15 PM
INSAT-3D being removed from its shipping container.

Even as European space consortium Arianespace (Static K400) plans the launch of India’s Insat-3D, the company is looking aggressively to tap business from the Middle East and Asia.

Arianespace has launched 65 satellites for Asian operators and has eight Asian satellites in its order book including Jabiru 1, Measat 3B, NBN 1, NBN 2, Optus 10 and Gsat-7, a multi-band satellite carrying payloads in UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band to be launched in August. Insat-3D is a meteorological satellite built by India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organization, and the launch will take place from Arianespace’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guyana in the second week of July.

Designated Flight VA214 in Arianespace’s numbering system, the upcoming Insat-3D mission–the 214th launch of an Ariane family vehicle–will be the 70th flight of the heavy-lift Ariane 5. The meteorological satellite, in a dual mission, to be orbited along with the Astrium-built Alphasat, will carry weather forecasting payloads along with a search and rescue relay system. It is to have a mass at liftoff of approximately 2,100 kilograms. Alphasat will be operated under an agreement between the European Space Agency (ESA) and European commercial satellite operator Inmarsat and will provide additional L-band capacity for coverage of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The Middle East remains a strategic market for Arianespace. The company has orbited 19 telecommunications satellites for the region, representing a 70 percent market share, and is now looking at new-entrant countries including Qatar and Azerbaijan.

“As a realistic assessment, I expect Arianespace will launch at least one telecom satellite for the Middle East region annually on heavyweight Ariane 5 missions during the coming several years,” said Arianespace sales director Tony Thoma at the Global Space and Satellite Forum in Abu Dhabi in May. “In addition, we expect our services with the medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega will generate new business opportunities while helping the development of observation satellite missions for this geographic zone.”

With an impressive launch tempo, the Ariane 5 heavy-lift launcher has achieved 69 launches overall with 55 successes in a row, including 44 dual launches and 11 single launches, according to Arianespace. Six launches were planned in 2013, with two already performed.