It was a go on an overcast day from the Spaceport in French Guiana as the last launch of 2017, VA240, was successful forArianespace transporting the latest cluster of four Galileo spacecraft. The Ariane 5 was used to transport the latest additions to Europe's civilian-run satellite navigation constellation.
This is a year to be remembered that included a shutdown of the facility due to political unrest. Tuesday's launch is the eleventh launch of the year, and the sixth Ariane 5 liftoff from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana during 2017.
The satellites have a liftoff mass of approximately 715 kg. each, and will be injected into a medium Earth orbit (MEO) at an altitude of 22,925 kilometers. To achieve this, the Ariane 5’s storable propellant upper stage will perform two burns during a mission lasting 3 hours and 55 minutes.
As with the workhorse Ariane 5 launcher itself, the multi-passenger dispenser for the four Galileo satellites was developed and built by ArianeGroup. Flight VA240 marks the second time that Arianespace is using the Ariane 5 ES and dispenser system to orbit payloads for Europe’s satellite navigation system, following other flights that employed medium-lift Soyuz vehicles carrying two Galileo spacecraft per mission.
Flight VA240 will close out Arianespace’s 2017 launch activity, which previously involved 10 flights from the Spaceport: five performed with Ariane 5, three utilizing the lightweight Vega and two with the medium-lift Soyuz.
After this 11th launch of the year, and the sixth Ariane 5 liftoff from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana during 2017, Arianespace will orbit four more satellites for the Galileo constellation.
This mission is being performed on behalf of the European Commission under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).
For the second time, an Ariane 5 ES version will be used to orbit satellites in Europe’s own satellite navigation system. At the completion of this flight, designated Flight VA240 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, 22 Galileo spacecraft will have been launched by Arianespace.