For Arianespace’s second mission of 2018, the company will use a Soyuz launch vehicle to orbit four additional O3b MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) satellites in the constellation operated by SES Networks. Carried out from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana, this launch also is Arianespace’s second of the year for SES and the fourth it has performed for the O3b MEO fleet, following the deployment in 2013 and 2014 of the constellation’s initial 12 satellites. With the launch of these four latest satellites, Arianespace is supporting SES Networks in the expansion and evolution of its constellation, which has been in commercial service since September 2014. The launch will be from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) in Sinnamary, French Guiana. The Launch Readiness Review (LRR) will take place on Monday, March 5, 2018 in Kourou, to authorize the start of operations for the final countdown.
The O3b satellites lofted by Arianespace Flight VS18 are the 54th, 55th, 56th and 57th satellites to be launched by Arianespace for the global satellite operator SES. The current 12-spacecraft constellation was successfully orbited by Arianespace, utilizing its medium-lift Soyuz workhorse to carry four spacecraft each on launches that began in June 2013, followed by additional missions in July and December 2014. The four O3b MEO satellites will be placed in Medium Earth Orbit at 7,830 km. from Earth, four-times-closer than geostationary satellites, and will provide low-latency, fiber-like connectivity. These new Ka-band satellites will join the existing O3b constellation to deliver high-speed connectivity to people and businesses in the growing mobility, fixed data and government markets. By efficiently scaling its O3b MEO fleet, SES is adding 38% more capacity across the globe and growing the addressable market from 45 to 50 degrees north and south latitude. The O3b satellites on Flight VS18 were built by Thales Alenia Space at its plant in Cannes, France.
For further information, download the Flight VS18 Launch Kit by clicking here: http://www.arianespace.com/press-kits.
To watch a live, high-speed online transmission of the launch (including commentary in French and English from the launch site), go to arianespace.com on March 6, 2018, beginning 15 minutes before liftoff.
You also can follow the launch live on youtube.com/arianespace and on your iPhone or iPad (the Arianespace HD app is free).