The German military communications satellite passenger for Arianespace’s upcoming Ariane 5 flight has arrived in French Guiana to begin its pre-launch processing in preparation for a liftoff later this month. COMSATBw-1 is a secure relay platform that will play an important role in the German Bundeswehr’s (German armed forces) concept for network-centric operations. It is to handle secure information for use by units on deployed missions – including voice, fax, data, video and multimedia applications – as the backbone of a strategic command infrastructure and interface with the tactical arms of the German Armed Forces. The overall industrial responsibility for this secure communication program is with Milsat Services (a 75% Astrium/25% subsidiary of ND SatCom Defence). The COMSATBw-1 spacecraft was delivered to French Guiana this week, flown in aboard a chartered Antonov An-124 cargo jetliner that landed at Cayenne’s Rochambeau International Airport. It was then transferred by road to the Spaceport’s payload preparation facility, which is designed to provide total security in the processing of such sensitive satellites. EADS Astrium is prime contractor for the German military program’s space segment, and has booked its two spacecraft for Arianespace launches – beginning with COMSATBw-1 on the upcoming Ariane 5 flight.
With a liftoff mass of 2,500 kg. at launch and a design life of 15 years, the satellites will operate in geostationary orbit and provide communication services over an area stretching from America to eastern Asia. COMSATBw-1 will be launched on Ariane 5’s late September mission along with the Amazonas 2 satellite, which arrived in French Guiana last week and is undergoing pre-launch processing in the S5 facility. Built by EADS Astrium using the Eurostar E3000 spacecraft bus, Amazonas 2 will weigh approximately 5,500 kg. at liftoff and is to be operated by the Spanish-based HISPASAT telecommunications operator. It is designed to provide relay capacity over the Americas with a coverage area extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Amazonas 2 carries 54 Ku-band transponders and 10 C-band transponders for the relay of a wide range of communications services, including direct-to-home television. The upcoming flight with Amazonas 2 and COMSATBw-1 is part of Arianespace’s busiest launch year for Ariane 5 since its 1999 commercial service introduction. A total of seven missions are planned with the workhorse launcher during 2009, with four of these already performed to date – orbiting a combined payload mass of more than 26,000 kg.