Arianespace is getting close to new record: 100 successful launches in a row performed by one organization. Thanks to Russian Soyuz rocket Company delivered today to orbit SES-15 communications satellite.
With the codename VS17 Arianespace signed launch of Russian Soyuz-2.1b rocket from Guiana Space Center with first SES satellite with electric propulsion. This step is important on the way of SES to improve their fleet of communication satellites. SES-15 was contracted and built by Boeing with utilization of reliable and proven Boeing 702SP satellite bus with 15 years operational life.
Launch took place from ELS launch site at Guiana Space Center punctually at 11:54 UTC. Rocket performed extremely well and after sixteen minutes Fregat upper stage separated from the core of the rocket and begun its journey to GTO orbit. After nine minutes of burn Fregat entered into ballistic phase of the flight on 31500 km orbit for 4'34" to reach specific point of deployment of the satellite. Short burn lasting only five minutes was performed successfully and at 17:14 UTC SES-15 satellite was deployed. Spacecraft sent first report of its good condition and confirmed that it was deployed correctly. After first tests it will be moved to GEO orbit, to 129° West orbital slot.
Weighing 2400 kg satellite is powered with solar arrays and onboard batteries. Thanks to its four XIPS electric thrusters it can change orbital position multiple times using only small percent of propellant comparing to chemical propulsion. Satellite will operate on Ku and Ka band covering with its range North America providing communications services, VSAT network services, government data transfer and helping in maritime monitoring. Secondary payload will help in augmentation process of GPS navigation system.