At 5:13am, today (16 May), the Arian 5 launch vehicle with the Vinasat-2 telecommunication satellite left the European Spaceport in South America and after 36 minutes, the satellite entered orbit safely.
The launch was on schedule at the start of a two hour launch window in Kourou, French Guiana, an overseas region in South America.
After 36 minutes of flight, at 5:49am, Vinasat-2 left the Arian 5 launch vehicle and entered the orbit.
The $300 million satellite, constructed by US-based Lockheed Martin, will boost local expertise and further develop Vietnam’s satellite communications technology as well as communication amongst fishermen at sea, weather forecasts and defense security.
The new satellite has a larger capacity, greater weight, greater number of sensor responses, and higher bandwidth capacity. The VINASAT-2 will focus on the Ku-band transponders, which provide radio, television and telephone transmission services for all of Vietnam and other parts of the Southeast Asia region.
This is Vietnam’s second satellite launched.
Below are timelines of critical moments in the command centre
5:06am, the launch system using rocket technology was checked. During the last 7 minutes before the launch, a computer system was automatically run, examining all technological parameters. The weather condition was very favourable.
5:11am, fuel was pumped into the liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen tank
5:13am, Arian 5 rocket system carrying Vinasat-2 left the launch pad safely
5:14am, two booster rockets operated at 90 percent capacity, burning two tonnes of fuel per second with temperature reaching 3,000 degrees Celsius, achieving a boosting capacity equaling 12 jet planes.
5:15am, after two minutes of flight, two rockets accomplished their mission and detached themselves from the satellite
5:16am, after three minutes of flight, Arian-5 travelled through a 100km atmospheric layer and headed towards target.
5:48am, the outer shell protecting the satellite Vinasat-2 was detached
5:49am, Vinasat-2 left Arian 5 and safely entered orbit
Prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, deputy prime minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, minister of information and communications Nguyen Bac Son, deputy minister of defense – senior lieutenant general Truong Quang Khanh witnessed the satellite launch from the headquarters of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) via live broadcast from Kouru.
Vietnam’s second satellite
VNPT is Vietnam’s giant state-owned telecommunications company which will manage the Vinasat-2
Previously, the Ariane 5 launch vehicle carried Vinasat-2 of Vietnam and JCSAT-13 of Japan to the launch pad.
The Ariane 5 ECA (Cryogenic Evolution type A) – the most powerful version in the Ariane 5 range – was used for this flight. The Ariane 5 ECA is an improved Ariane 5 Generic launcher, according to nasaspaceflight.com.
Although it has the same general architecture, a number of major changes was made to the basic structure of the Ariane 5 Generic version to increase thrust and enable it to carry heavier payloads into orbit.
This was the second Ariane 5 flight of 2012, with a payload performance of over 8,300 kilogram. – which included a combined mass of more than 7,500 kilogram. for JCSAT-13 and VINASAT-2, along with the launcher’s dual-payload dispenser system and associated integration hardware, nasaspaceflight.com reported.
From an orbital position of 131.8 degrees East, VINASAT-2 – managed by VNPT – will provide fixed satellite service to Vietnam and neighbouring countries.
It features 24 Ku-band channels providing uplink and downlink coverage, and also has a design life of 15 years although it is carrying additional fuel reserves to maximise longevity.
Vietnam had its first communications satellite – Vinasat-1 – launched in April 2008 by an Ariane 5.
Effective use so far
Before having Vinasat-1, Vietnam had to hire 2,024 foreign telecommunication channels at a cost of $10 million per year.
Hence, the fact that Vietnam has its own satellites helps reduce the fees by up to half or one third depending on the frequency band used.
According to VNPT, around 90 percent of Vinasat-1′s capacity has been hired and used, raking in an expected VND250 billion (US$12 million) this year. This does not include VNPT’s use which accounts for nearly 30 percent.