This week in an Araine 5 rocket lifted off from French Guiana to deliver a robotic space tug and a pair of commercial satellites in orbit. The launch marked the first Arianespace mission since launch operations were suspended earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Aboard the rocket launch were three US-built payloads lifted off from the ELA-three launch zone at the Guiana Space Center at 6:04 PM EDT.
The Araine 5 rocket produces 2.9 million pounds of thrust from its twin solid rocket boosters and hydrogen-fed core stage. About an hour after takeoff, the rocket had successfully deployed three commercial satellites. The launch also marked the 300 orbital launch attempt executed from the spaceport in French Guiana since 1970.
The lunch had been previously scheduled for July 31 but encountered a sensor problem on the core stage hydrogen tank forcing a delay only two minutes before takeoff. The rocket had to be rolled back to its assembly building, and the sensor replaced. The rocket returned to its launch pad on Thursday.
While the rocket eventually took off, it was delayed more than half an hour on Saturday due to upper-level wind conditions. The orbit the payload was placed in was more than 22,000 miles over the equator. The first of the satellites released was a 7270 pound Galaxy 30 satellite that will provide commercial video and television services across North America.
Another payload was the MEV-2 spacecraft that weighs 6338 pounds. The space tug helps to extend the life of satellites already in orbit. The last of the three payloads was the BSAT-4b that will be used to broadcast direct-to-home 8K and 4K television services in Japan.