Airbus Defence and Space

Space in daily life All features

Telecommunications: making connections

More than two thirds of Ariane’s payloads have been telecommunications satellites. As the article ‘A European launcher for a global market’ explains, European frustration at being dependent on US commercial launch capability was a major driver in the genesis of the Ariane programme.

As the market demanded ever bigger, heavier satellites, Ariane has consistently bettered its performance capability, again and again setting new records for launching the largest satellite to geostationary orbit. The current world record is held by TerreStar-1, weighing in at 6,910kg, launched by Ariane 5 on Flight 189 in July of this year.

Satellite communications have quite simply revolutionised the world we live in. Fixed and mobile telephone services, television broadcast, internet access, video-conferencing and a whole host of applications have changed the way people all over the globe interact for business, pleasure or necessity. Airbus Defence and Space’s Eurostar series of communications satellites are renowned within the global industry for exceptional reliability and exemplary in-orbit performance. Many have been launched by Ariane, including the most powerful European satellites currently in orbit, Hot Birds 8, 9 and 10 which form the core of operator Eutelsat’s satellite system located at 13° East, broadcasting 1,100 TV channels to 120 million households across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The three Skynet 5 satellites for secure communications, launched by Ariane 5 in 2007 (Flights 175 and 179) and 2008 (Flight 184), all Eurostar E3000s built by Airbus Defence and Space and operated by Airbus Defence and Space’s subsidiary Paradigm, have opened up a completely new era in military communications in the form of a unique service provision approach.

Ariane 5’s fairing is lowered down onto Hot Bird 10 during its launch campaign in Kourou in February 2009.
Ariane 5’s fairing is lowered down onto Hot Bird 10 during its launch campaign in Kourou in February 2009.