The Ariane 5 rocket achieved a world first on Friday.
It enabled the launch from Kourou (French Guiana) of the Eutelsat Quantum satellite, the first “flexible” commercial satellite whose particularity is that it can be reprogrammed in orbit.
This first Ariane 5 of the year took off at the opening of its firing window at 6 p.m., 11 p.m. in Paris, with two satellites on board on behalf of satellite operators Embratel, the largest in Brazil and Latin America, and Eutelsat, one of the world leaders in the sector.
Almost half an hour later, the two satellites were put into orbit almost four minutes apart.
The successful launch of Ariane 5
Eutelsat Quantum is the world's first so-called “flexible” commercial satellite.
It will allow Eutelsat's customers to reconfigure the satellite in real time, from its power to its spectrum through its frequency.
The other telecommunications satellite launched is Star One D2 which, with its six tons, is the largest ever ordered by Embratel.
Commissioned five years ago, Eutelsat Quantum is the result of a public-private partnership involving the European Space Agency, the operator Eutelsat and Airbus Defense and Space.
The European operator expects a lot from this new technology, presented as a world first.
Each of Quantum's eight beams will be modular, both in coverage area, power or frequency, "in a few minutes", through software made available to the customer, according to Eutelsat.
Facilitate the production of satellites
This flexibility of use will make it possible, for example, to provide mobile coverage for planes, ships, or government services, for example in the event of natural disasters or one-off events.
It also paves the way for a production closer to the series of satellites, which until now are unique objects.
“Quantum is at the forefront of software solutions for commercial spacecraft because we are the first to respond to market demand for extreme flexibility for customers,” said Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at the European Space Agency.
The launch of this first Ariane 5 of the year will be followed by two other Ariane, not to mention a Vega and a Soyuz this summer, said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël.