Ariane 5 is ready for launch with ASTRA 3B and COMSATBw-2

The Ariane 5 mission with ASTRA 3B and COMSATBw-2 is ready for launch tomorrow evening, May 21. Arianespace’s heavy-lift vehicle rolled out at the Spaceport in French Guiana this morning, and moved to the launch zone for a scheduled liftoff at 7:01 p.m. local time tomorrow. ASTRA 3B is riding in the upper position of the launcher’s payload “stack” and will be deployed at just under 28 minutes into the flight, with COMSATBw-2 located below it in the SYLDA 5 dispenser for a separation at 33 minutes after liftoff.

Arianespace announces launch contract signing for Skynet 5D

The heavy-lift Ariane 5 has been selected to orbit its fourth spacecraft in the Skynet 5 family: Skynet 5D. This military communications satellite will be placed into geostationary transfer orbit from Europe’s Spaceport during the first half of 2013. Skynet 5D is to be lofted by Arianespace for Astrium, which is contracted to deliver the satellite in orbit to Paradigm Secure Communications.

Inaugural Soyuz launch is set for later this year

The first flight of Soyuz from French Guiana has been confirmed for the fourth quarter of 2010. This was announced today during a meeting of the Soyuz Consultation Committee – which comprises representatives of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), the French space agency CNES and Arianespace. The committee’s meeting was called to review progress on the Spaceport’s Soyuz launch pad, and to approve an overall timetable for assembly and testing in advance of the inaugural mission.