New satellites for Africa: Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn launches successful

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Arianespace's second launch attempt for Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn successfully cleared the pad on Friday 22 April 2011. Both satellites were successfully put into orbit on the evening of April 22, 2011 via an Ariane 5 launch. A March 30 attempt was aborted at the last moment. One of the actuators on the Ariane 5's Vulcain 2 engine showed a fault, resulting in the shutdown of the cryogenic engine and rolling back of the vehicle for replacement of the problem part.

The flight carrying the two satellites left on time at 5:37 PM eastern time from the Arianespace launch facility in French Guyana. The Ariane 5 rocket set a lift performance record for the mission, putting a total mass of 10,050 kilograms into geostationary transfer orbit, including the 8,956 kilograms combine weight of the Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat (News - Alert) New Dawn satellites.

Yahsat Y1, the first satellite to be operated by the United Arab Emirates' Al Yah Satellite Communications company, was released 27 minutes into the flight. The Astrium-built satellite carries a mixture of Ku-band and C-band transponders and will operate out of an orbital slot of 52.5 degrees east. With a coverage footprint across the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia, Yahsat Y1A will support Abu Dhabi's efforts to become a media broadcasting and telecommunications hub, delivering services for government, commercial, and consumer satellite communications capabilities.

Intelsat New Dawn was deployed 35 minutes into the flight and will occupy an orbital slot at 32.8 degrees East. Owned by a joint venture of Intelsat and a consortium lead by private investment firm Convergence (News - Alert) Partners, the satellite has a mix of C-band and Ku-band transponders for delivering telecommunications services to African customers, including voice, wireless backhaul, Internet, and media applications services. Intelsat New Dawn was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation using its STAR-2 satellite platform.

The next Ariane 5 launch is scheduled for May 19 2011 and will carry another pair of satellites, ST-2 and GSAT-8. ST-2 is a communications satellite to be operated by SingTel (News - Alert) and Chunghwa Telecom, delivering service to the Middle East, Central Asia, India, and Southeast Asia. Built by the Indian Space Research Orgnization, GSAT-8 carries 18 Ku-band transponders and will carrier a GPS-augmentation payload to provide positional accuracy of 1 meter or better within India.