Ariane 5 Launches Reprogrammable Telecommunications Satellite

Europe’s Ariane 5 delivered two telecom satellites, Star One D2 and Eutelsat Quantum, into their planned transfer orbits.

Arianespace announced liftoff at 22:00 BST (23:00 CEST, 18:00 local time) on Friday, July 30, 2021 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, for a mission lasting about 37 minutes.

Star One D2, with a launch mass of 6187 kg, in the upper berth of the fairing was released first.

Following a series of burns controlled by Ariane’s computer, the Sylda structure encasing the 3461 kg Eutelsat Quantum payload was then jettisoned before Eutelsat Quantum was released into its own geostationary transfer orbit.

Star One D2 is owned by Maxar and operated by Brazilian operator Embratel. It will deliver broadband coverage to regions in Central and South America. It has a design life of 15 years.

Eutelsat Quantum, developed under an ESA partnership project with satellite operator Eutelsat and prime manufacturer Airbus, is the first commercial fully flexible software-defined satellite in the world.

Because it can be reprogrammed in orbit, it can respond to changing demands for data transmission and secure communications during its 15-year lifetime. Its beams can be redirected to move in almost real time to provide information to passengers on board moving ships or planes. The beams also can be easily adjusted to deliver more data when demand surges. The satellite can detect and characterize any rogue emissions, enabling it to respond dynamically to accidental interference or intentional jamming.

“Every launch is exciting. Ariane 5 is the pride of Europe and continues to be the cornerstone of Europe’s access to space. Eutelsat Quantum, launched today, is the result of an ESA–industry partnership that brings a world first to telecommunications. I’m happy that Ariane 5 is also part of this achievement for Europe,” commented Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA director of Space Transportation.

The performance requested for this Ariane launch was about 10 515 kg. The satellites totaled about 9647 kg, with payload adapters and carrying structures making up the rest.

Flight VA254 was the 110th Ariane 5 mission.