The heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA rocket lifted off at 2030 GMT on 21 December, completing its seventh launch of 2016. This launch also marks the 76th straight success for the Ariane 5 and 90th launch overall. The mission, which took off from the European Spaceport, Kourou, French Guiana, was a double communications satellite payload for Brazil and Japan.

An Ariane 5 lifts off carrying to communications satellites for Brazil and Japan. Courtesy of Arianespace.

An Ariane 5 lifts off carrying to communications satellites for Brazil and Japan. Courtesy of Arianespace.

 

The primary payload, taking the upper berth, was STAR ONE D1 for Brazilian satellite operator Embratel Star One. This is the largest satellite launched for Embratel weighing 6,433 kg at launch. The co-payload was JCSAT-15, for the major Asian satellite operator Sky Perfect JSAT. This spacecraft weighed 3,400 kg at launch, and is the 19th launched for the company by Arianespace. Both of these spacecraft were constructed by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) of Palo Alto, California.

The total 27 satellites launched in 2016 by 11 flights of its Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega rocket fleet is a new record for Arianespace, beating the previous total of 25 set in 2015.  Out of the total of 27 satellites launched this year, 11 were built by SSL, and this most recent mission was the second dual-SSL mission of the year.