ViaSat-2 launches from Kourou space centre in French Guiana

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ViaSat-2 launches from Kourou. Image: Arianespace.
ViaSat-2 launches from Kourou. Image: Arianespace.

The ViaSat-2 satellite has been launched aboard an Ariane 5 ECA from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

The Ariane left the spaceport at 20:45 local time (23:45 GMT) on Thursday 1st June, ejecting the satellite into its transfer orbit about half an hour later.

ViaSat-2 will now be manoeuvred into its final geostationary orbital position. This will be done using an all-electric engine that generates thrust by ionising xenon gas and accelerating out of the back of the spacecraft with an electric field.

This generates less thrust than a standard chemical engine, but saves on the propellant mass required.

The Arianespace Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle was responsible for sending the 6,418 kg satellite into its geostationary transfer orbit.

Ultimately, ViaSat-2 will be located at the 69.9° West longitude orbital slot and boost inflight connectivity services for the company.

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The Ka-band ViaSat-2 satellite system is expected to significantly improve speeds, reduce costs and expand the footprint of broadband services across North America, Central America, the Caribbean and a portion of northern South America, as well as the primary aeronautical and maritime routes across the Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe.

Compared with ViaSat-1, ViaSat-2 is expected to double the bandwidth, with more than 300 Gigabits per second (Gbps) of total network capacity, as well as providing seven times the broadband coverage.

The Ariane-5 launcher also delivered EUTELSAT 172B – the 32nd satellite launched by Arianespace for Paris-based Eutelsat, a satellite operator in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

EUTELSAT 172B will increase Eutelsat’s capacity for fast-growing applications, such as in-flight and at-sea connectivity, mobile network interconnections, video and government services.

Built by Airbus, it will be positioned at 172 deg. East – a strategic orbital position for coverage of Asia-Pacific, on land and at sea, from Alaska to Australia.

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