Chennai: European space agency Arianespace will have its Launch Readiness Review (LRR) this Friday for the November 10 flight of Ariane 5 rocket with Indian communication satellite GSAT-15, the agency said.
In a statement Arianespace said: “The Launch Readiness Review (LRR) will take place on Friday, November 6, 2015 in Kourou, to authorize the start of operations for the final countdown.”
As of now the Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled to lift off on November 10 from the space port at Kourou in French Guiana between 6.34 p.m. and 7.17 pm or 3.04 a.m and 3.47 a.m. on November 11.
According to Arianespace, the whole mission is expected to last about 43 minutes. The rocket will carry a total payload of 9,810 kg, including approximately 8,962 kg for the two satellites-GSAT-15 and ARABSAT-6B.
GSAT-15 is the 18th satellite built by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and 19th payload launched by Arianespace, the statement said.
“Since the launch of the experimental satellite Apple on Flight L03 in 1981, Arianespace has orbited 86 percent of the contracts for geostationary launches that India opened to bids by non-Indian launch systems,” the European space agency said.
GSAT-15 will provide telecommunications services, as well as dedicated navigation-aid and emergency services for India.
The Indian satellite with a design life of 12 years will have 24 Ku-band transponders (automatic receivers and transmitters of radio signals) and two GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) transponders.
Firefly Aerospace Inc, a resurgent rocket company founded by a former SpaceX engineer, plans to build a factory and launch site at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Spaceport in a $52 million deal, people familiar with the project said on Wednesday.
The Firefly project is strategically important for the Cedar Park, Texas-based startup as it competes with several other new entrants vying to cash in on a big jump in the number of small satellites expected in the coming years.
Companies like Firefly, billionaire British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, and the U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, are among the most promising companies designing miniaturized launch systems to link a broader swath of the economy to space at lower cost.
Firefly and Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority, declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements.
Beginning around 2020, around 800 small satellites are expected to launch annually, more than double the annual average over the past decade, according to Teal Group analyst Marco Caceres.
The boom is fueled in part by new venture cash and technology leaps that have reduced the size of satellites used for everything from communications to national security.
A Florida project code-named “Maricopa” was publicly disclosed in November by Space Florida, but officials have been tight-lipped on specifics. Two people familiar with the project said Firefly is the company involved, though one of the people said the deal had not been finalized.
Firefly aims for a first flight in December of its Alpha rocket, which is capable of carrying around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit at a cost of about $15 million per flight.
By comparison, it can cost around $62 million for a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 with a payload topping 50,000 pounds (22,700 kg).
Firefly, founded around 2014 by former SpaceX and NASA engineer Tom Markusic, says its main competitors are government-subsidized foreign ones like the Indian Space Research Organization.
Asset management firm Noosphere Ventures bought Firefly’s assets in 2017 after it nearly shut down when a key European investor backed out. That resulted in the cancellation of a $5.5 million NASA contract for small satellite launches.
Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha and a higher-capacity Beta rocket around 2021. It was not clear when the Florida expansion would be completed.
In November, NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface. (VOA)