Arianespace has reaffirmed their long-standing partnership with SES launching an additional four O3b MEO satellites for the communications provider. The four satellites were successfully deployed to a medium Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 8,000 kilometres by an Arianespace-contracted Soyuz launch vehicle.
The Soyuz STB with its Fregat-MT upper stage lifted off from Guiana Space Center in French Guiana at 16:37:06 GMT (11:37:06 EST) on March 9. Two hours one minute and eleven seconds following first stage ignition, the first two O3b MEO satellites were deployed. A further twenty-one minutes and forty seconds later, the second pair of O3b MEO satellites successfully separated from the Fregat upper stage.
Today’s launch is the fourth Soyuz launch in service of the O3b MEO fleet with an additional 12 satellites being deployed in 2013 and 2014. In September last year, Arianespace secured the contract to launch the fifth set of four O3b MEO satellites aboard a Soyuz rocket in 2021.
Arianespace has a less than ideal start to the year following a partial failure of an Ariane 5 launch vehicle towards the end of January. The launch provider lost vehicle telemetry following second stage ignition and was unable to confirm the successful deployment of SES-14 and Al Yah 3 satellites.
Once the two satellites successfully came online, it was discovered that had missed their targeted orbits. Although both satellites were able to manoeuvres into their correct orbits under their own power, the mistake cost the satellites’ operational lifespans months.
Image Credit: Arianespace