Ariane 5 readied for dual-satellite launch
By Robert Briel
February 27, 2012 09.58 Europe/London

The second Ariane 5 for launch in 2012 has completed its initial assembly at the spaceport in French Guiana.

Arianespace Flight VA206 will carry out a dual-payload mission to orbit a pair of satellites for Asia-Pacific: Japan’s JCSAT-13 and VINASAT-2 for Vietnam.

During activity in the Spaceport’s launcher integration building, the Ariane 5 ECA vehicle took shape with the mating of its two solid rocket boosters and core cryogenic stage, followed by the initial top-off with the upper composite – consisting of the ESC-A cryogenic upper stage and vehicle equipment bay.

Both passengers on this flight are to be orbited for repeat Arianespace customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

JCSAT-13 will be the latest in a series of satellites lofted by Arianespace for Sly Perfect JSAT Corporation, the broadcasting and communications services provider that started in 2008 through the merger of JSAT Corporation, SKY Perfect Communications, Inc., and Space Communications Corporation.

VINASAT-2 is the second telecommunications platform entrusted to Arianespace for the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), and comes four years after Arianespace launched VINASAT-1 as Vietnam’s first communications satellite –which was carried by an Ariane 5 in April 2008.

The mission with VINASAT-2 and JCSAT-13 is targeted for mid-May, and uses the VA206 flight designation, signifying the 206th launch of an Ariane family vehicle.