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First Ariane 5 for launch in 2018 begins its integration process

(5 December 2017 - Arianespace) The first Ariane 5 for liftoff in 2018 has begun its build-up process, kicking off preparations for another busy year of Arianespace launch activity from its French Guiana operational base.

This heavy-lift vehicle will be used for Flight VA241, which will deliver the Al Yah 3 spacecraft for Yahsat (the Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PrJSC), based in the United Arab Emirates at Abu Dhabi, along with another relay satellite.

The Arianespace mission’s designation signifies Ariane’s 241st flight since the European-built series of launch vehicles began operation in 1979.

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The cryogenic core stage for Flight VA241’s Ariane 5 is shown suspended over its mobile launch table in the Spaceport’s Launcher Integration Building. (courtesy: Arianespace)

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One of two solid propellant boosters is transferred for its mating to the Ariane 5 core stage. (courtesy: Arianespace)

Integration of the Ariane 5 is following well-established procedures at the Spaceport, with its cryogenic core stage positioned over one of two operational launch tables. This is being followed by the mating of two solid propellant boosters in the Spaceport’s Ariane 5 Launcher Integration Building – clearing the way for an initial vehicle “top-off” with installation of its combined cryogenic upper stage and equipment bay atop the core stage.

Al Yah 3: a hybrid electric propulsion satellite

Ariane 5 will then be made ready for transfer to the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, where it will receive the two satellite passengers.

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The protective shipping container with Al Yah 3 is unloaded from the chartered AN-124 cargo jetliner at Cayenne’s Félix Eboué Airport, which was followed by the satellite’s transfer by road to the Spaceport. (courtesy: Arianespace)

Al Yah 3 was built by Orbital ATK at the U.S. company’s satellite manufacturing facility in Dulles, Virginia. It was shipped to the launch site on November 28.

This relay platform will extend the commercial Ka-band coverage for Yahsat to an additional 600 million users across Africa and Brazil.

Al Yah 3 is the first hybrid electric propulsion GEOStar-3 satellite to be completed by Orbital ATK. The spacecraft’s hybrid electric propulsion system is designed to provide higher power and greater payload capability, while maintaining cost-effective launches and a faster path to orbit than all-electric systems.