Arianespace launch VA 217 Mission accomplished! Ariane 5 ECA orbits ABS-2 and Athena Fidus

On February 6, at 21:30 UT, Arianespace carried out the 58th successful Ariane 5 launch in a row, orbiting two telecommunications satellites: ABS-2 for the operator ABS and Athena-Fidus for Telespazio, on behalf of the French and Italian space agencies.

First Ariane 5 launch in 2014 and 58th successful launch in a row: Arianespace continues to deliver the world’s most reliable launch service!

Today’s successful mission, the 58th in a row for Europe’s Ariane 5 launcher, confirms that Arianespace continues to set the standard for guaranteed access to space for all operators, whether national or international space agencies, private industry or governments.

Following the announcement of the orbital injection of the ABS-2 and Athena Fidus satellites, Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël said, “Today’s launch, the 58th success in a row for Ariane 5 and the 250th launch for our family of Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launchers, confirms the unrivaled reliability and availability of our launch systems. I would like to underscore our pride this evening in being able to meet the requirements of two customers that symbolize Arianespace’s dual mission: to offer highly reliable services to private operators from around the world, like ABS, and to guarantee independent access to space to European governments, today for the French and Italian ministries of defense and homeland security units working in partnership with CNES, ASI and Telespazio. I would like to thank ABS for entrusting us with their first launch contract, and also thank Telespazio, along with customers CNES and ASI, for their loyalty. In addition, I would like to express my gratitude to Airbus Defence & Space, as the industrial prime contractor for Ariane 5, to the rest of the European space industry and to the teams from CNES-CSG for today’s magnificent success.”

A launch for a global operator, ABS

ABS is one of the fastest growing global satellite operators in the world. ABS operates a fleet of five satellites, which will now include ABS-2. In addition, ABS has ordered two new satellites, slated for launch in the next two years.

The ABS-2 satellite was built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) using the LS-1300 platform. It weighed more than 6,330 kg at launch, and will be positioned in geostationary orbit at 75 degrees East. Fitted with C, Ku and Ka-band transponders, it will provide telecommunications, direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting, multimedia and data transmission services for Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

ABS-2 is the 43rd satellite built by Space Systems/Loral to be launched by Arianespace.

A dual mission: for civil and military communications

Athena-Fidus (Access on THeatres for European Nations Allied forces – French Italian Dual Use Satellite) is a French-Italian telecommunications satellite using state-of-the-art technologies to provide broadband Internet services. Operated jointly by the French and Italian space agencies, CNES and ASI, respectively, it will provide telecommunications services to both armed forces and homeland security units in France and Italy, along with the capacity offered by the countries’ Syracuse 3 and Sicral satellites.

Athena-Fidus was built by Thales Alenia Space using a Spacebus 4000B2 platform. Weighing 3,080 kg at launch, it offers a design life exceeding 15 years.

It is the 130th payload built by Thales Alenia Space and launched by Arianespace.

The ABS-2/Athena-Fidus mission at a glance

The mission was carried out by an Ariane 5 ECA launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 5:30 pm local time in Kourou (3:30 pm in Washington, D.C., 20:30 UT, 9:30 pm in Paris, and on Friday, February 7 at 4:30 am in Hong Kong).

This was the 216th Ariane launch. Airbus Defence & Space is the industrial prime contractor for Ariane launch vehicles. The Ariane 5 ECA used on this mission boosted 10,214 kg into geostationary transfer orbit, including 9,410 kg for the two satellites.