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Alphasat blasts off without a hitch

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July 26, 2013

Alphasat hitched a ride aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, which took off from Kourou in Frenc...

Alphasat hitched a ride aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, which took off from Kourou in French Guiana at 7:54 p.m. GMT (Photo: ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE-Optique/CSG)

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Europe's largest telecommunications satellite has gone into orbit following a successful launch from French Guiana on Thursday. At 8:38 p.m. GMT, Alphasat (all 6.6 tonnes of it) was picked up at Inmarsat's Beijing ground station, confirming that the satellite was operating as expected.

Alphasat is quite the brute. The solar panels which provide its power span 40 m (130 ft). At its core is a processor capable of "trillions of operations per second."

Co-funded by ESA and satellite comms company Inmarsat in an effort to expand the latter's international mobile network, Alphasat is expected to provide broadband service to Europe, Africa and the Middle East for the next 15 years. However, the ESA has also managed to squeeze a range of "demonstration" payload tech aboard Alphasat. The satellite itself was built by Astrium, a subsidiary of EADS.

Alphasat's launch also marks the first use of the Alphabus platform, a standard for communications satellites with payloads of up to 2 tonnes of additional comms equipment consuming up to 22 kW of power. Alphabus was developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, and commissioned by the ESA and French space agency CNES.

Alphasat hitched a ride aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, which took off from Kourou in French Guiana at 7:54 p.m. GMT.

Source: ESA

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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2 Comments

Since they seem to be trying to include everything maybe the put a weather camera as well. These days it wouldn't cost that much.

Slowburn
26th July, 2013 @ 11:20 am PDT

A 6.6. tonne satellite designed and built in Britain! Woo Hoo!

TedF
29th July, 2013 @ 11:27 am PDT
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