An Ariane 5 ES rocket has lofted another four Galileo satellites from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Tuesday. The launch – the 11th of the year for Arianespace – of the FM-15 through FM-18 involves the second use of the Ariane launch vehicle for a Galileo launch, following a previous run with the Soyuz rocket. Launch was on schedule at 18:36 UTC.
Ariane 5 ES Launch:
The Ariane 5 ES – which has previously been used to loft Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV) to the International Space Station – has an estimated LEO launch capacity of 21,000 kg (46,000 lb).
It includes all the performance improvements of Ariane 5 ECA core and boosters but replaces the ESC-A second stage with the restartable EPS used on Ariane 5 GS variants.
Arianespace mainly relies on its Ariane 5 ECA variant. However, the ES has found a role with the Galileo launches.
The launch – designated as Flight VA240 – marked the end of another busy year for Arianespace, which has seen 10 missions from French Guiana so far in 2017 – involving five launches of the heavy-lift Ariane 5, two with the medium Soyuz and three with the lightweight Vega.