European launch provider Arianespace is preparing to launch a pair of telecommunications satellites for its first orbital mission of 2019. The satellites will launch aboard an Ariane 5 from the Guiana Space Centre on February 2.
Designated VA247, the Ariane 5 launch will place the ISRO GSAT-31 and the Saudi HS-4/SGS-1 communication satellites into geostationary orbits at an inclination of 3 degrees. Currently, the rocket is scheduled to lift off at 21:02 UTC (18:01 local time) with both satellites expected to have been deployed just over 42 minutes later. Should it be required, the mission has an available launch window of 61 minutes.
The HS-4/SGS-1 (Hellas-Sat4/SaudiGeoSat-1) satellite was developed by Lockheed Martin for KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology) and Arabsat. According to a Lockheed Martin press release, the satellite will provide, “advanced telecommunications capabilities, including television, internet, telephone and secure military communications to customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.”
The HS-4/SGS-1 satellite is one of a pair with the second, Arabsat-6A expected to launch aboard a Falcon Heavy in March. The launch will be the first operational launch of the Falcon Heavy after a successful maiden flight early last year.
India’s GSAT-31 is the second satellite set to launch aboard VA247. The satellite was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation for the country’s INSAT (Indian National Satellite System) constellation.
The GSAT-31 satellite is expected to replace the INSAT-4CR satellite that was launched in September 2007. The satellite was launched aboard GSLV Mk.I which failed to placed in its designated orbit after the rocket’s upper stage underperformed. The satellite, as a result, had spent time and fuel position itself in the correct orbit. Although this likely cost the satellite a portion of its operation lifespan it continues to operate nearly 11 years and 5 months later.