SingTel Optus, an Australian operator, has signed a contract with Arianespace to deploy the Optus-11 communications spacecraft in 2023 using the latest Ariane 6. Optus-11 Ku-band communications spacecraft is scheduled to deploy in the second part of 2023, serving the Australia-New Zealand region. As per the ArianeSpace press release, the satellite contains a variety of modern technologies, including the latest breakthroughs in digital processing as well as active antennas, which enable the formation of thousands of beams.
The satellite will boost the operator’s existing geostationary orbit network’s capacity, making it the biggest constellation ever launched by an Australian business. “We are happy and flattered by this repeated vote of confidence from SingTel Optus,” said Stéphane Isral, Arianespace’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have performed out all Optus launches for the past 21 years, and Ariane 6 is going to now maintain this long and distinguished track record.”
“The partners with whom we collaborate are critical to the successful launch of a new satellite. “We’re thrilled to be working with Arianespace again, as they’ve proven over many years that they can reliably deliver an accurate deployment and velocity to orbit,” said Ben White, Optus’ Managing Director in charge of the Wholesale, Satellite and Strategy. The Ariane 64 configuration will put the Optus-11 spacecraft into the high-energy geostationary transfer orbit, allowing it to begin operations sooner.
The COVID-19 outbreak had hampered the construction of the Ariane 6. The replacement to the Ariane 5 was supposed to take to the skies in 2020, but the series of setbacks pushed the launch date back to 2021, then 2022. However, progress has resumed. “We’ve made progress in the last few weeks and months,” Winfried Oehler, ArianeGroup’s head of the electrical engineering as well as AIT support, told SpaceNews. “In the south of Germany, we’re preparing the final stages for a hot fire trial of the higher level.”
Around the close of the year, a joint test model is planned to arrive in Kourou, French Guiana. “At the same time, we’re increasing manufacture of the flight model.” The flight model will be finished early next year.” According to the European Space Agency, the Ariane 6 will be launched for the first time in Q2 of next year. ArianeGroup’s head of the industrial directorate, Karl-Heinz Servos, revealed during a panel discussion at Space Tech Expo Europe held in Bremen, Germany, on November 17 that the company is working toward a launch in the late 2022.
“While we’re still launching Ariane 5, I believe we’re doing a lot to bring Ariane 6 off the ground.” “In industry, this shift phase is always quite difficult,” Servos added. The CERES and 3, 2, 1 satellites were launched into orbit for CNES by an Arianespace Vega mission on November 16 on behalf of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces (DGA).