WASHINGTON — European launch provider Arianespace completed its first launch of the year Jan. 16, sending two communications satellites into geostationary transfer orbits.
The Ariane 5 rocket lifted off from the Guiana Space Center at 4:05 p.m. Eastern with the 3,600-kilogram Eutelsat Konnect satellite and the 3,400-kilogram GSAT-30 satellite.
Eutelsat Konnect separated from the rocket’s upper stage about 28 minutes later, followed by the Indian space agency ISRO’s GSAT-30 satellite after another 10 minutes.
Eutelsat Konnect is both a technology milestone for Europe and a tactical gambit for Eutelsat after the company abandoned plans to invest in a Viasat satellite two years ago.
The European and French space agencies helped fund the satellite because it uses a new Neosat satellite platform intended to lower the cost of manufacturing. The goal of the Neosat program is to give European manufacturers an edge over competitors in the U.S. and Asia.
Thales Alenia Space built the all-electric satellite on its Neosat bus, which it brands Spacebus Neo. Eutelsat Konnect took four years to produce, Yohann Leroy, Eutelsat’s deputy CEO, said in a post-launch speech.
“Beyond Eutelsat, this is the success of a European dream team,” Leroy said.