What Kourou's Up To

Yazata Offline
They just (about 2:45 PM today PDT/ 5:45 PM EDT) launched an Ariane 5 carrying two TV broadcast satellites, one belonging to AT&T, the other to Eutelsat.

The Ariane 5 is a French heavy lift satellite launcher that's kind of a cross between the Space Shuttle and Falcon Heavy. Like Falcon Heavy it has three cores. Like the Space Shuttle, the two side cores are solid rocket boosters while the center core runs on liquid hydrogen. But sadly, none of it is reusable. It's a beautiful rocket (it's French!) but it probably won't be economically competitive with SpaceX's re-flyable rockets.   

I believe that AT&T's satellite T-16 is really DirectTV satellite 16 (DirectTV is an AT&T subsidiary) intended for satellite TV broadcasting. It's American, so paradoxically it was manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space in Europe. Eutelsat is a Paris based comm-sat operator, so (equally paradoxically) their Eutelsat 7c satellite was constructed by Maxar's SSL (Space Systems Loral) right here in nearby Palo Alto California. The satellite appears destined to provide satellite TV coverage to the Middle East and eastern Africa.

Watch the launch in a short 45 second video here (some of the countdown narration is in gibberish). The sky over Kourou (at the edge of the jungle in French Guiana) was rainy this morning and they feared that the launch wouldn't be all that visible, lighting up and disappearing into the clouds. But it turned out that the clouds cleared almost entirely and the thing was spectacular.  


Watch the two side-boosters separate from the center core here (they say that the clarity with which this was seen was almost unprecedented):


Jonathan McDowell reports that the satellites have separated from the Ariane second stage. So this launch is officially a success.

Yazata Offline
The European Space Agency's got another Ariane 5 launch from Kourou.

The launch was on hold but it looks like the countdown has resumed. T - 1 minute!

Arianespace livestream from Paris here:

C C Offline
That was just about the cloudiest launch I've ever seen.
confused2 Offline
Primitive stuff compared to what we're used to seeing nowadays.

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