Ariane 5 VA241 Mission Delivers SES-14, Al Yah 3 Satellites to Orbit

An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket carrying the SES-14 and Al Yah 3 satellites lifted off from from the Ariane Launch Complex No. 3 (ELA 3) at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) in Kourou, French Guiana on Jan. 25 at 19:20 local time.

The communications satellites, SES-14 and Al Yah 3 are launched for operators SES and Yahsat (Al Yah Satellite Communications Company) respectively. SES-14 also hosts a payload for NASA’s Explorer program: GOLD (Global-Scale Observation of the Limb and Disk).

The Flight VA241 is the 295th mission of its launcher family and the 241st utilizing an Ariane launcher.

A few seconds after ignition of the upper stage, the second tracking station located in Natal, Brazil, did not acquire the launcher telemetry. This lack of telemetry lasted throughout the rest of powered flight.

Subsequently, both satellites were confirmed separated, acquired and they are on orbit. SES-14 and Al Yah 3 are communicating with their respective control centers.

Arianespace has set up an independent enquiry commission, chaired by ESA’s General Inspector, in conjunction with ESA to look into the trajectory deviation experienced during VA241 launch. Arianespace said in a statement that the upcoming launch campaigns currently underway at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) proceed as scheduled.


SES-14 is the 53rd satellite launched by Arianespace for the operator SES (Société Européenne de Satellites), reaching back to Spacenet 1, orbited in May 1984.

SES-14 is one of the company’s three hybrid satellites, combining wide beams and high throughput (HTS) spot beams. Its hybrid payload offers both C- and Ku-band wide beams, plus Ku- and Ka-band HTS capacity.

Positioned at 47.5° West, SES-14 will fulfill two primary missions: its C-band wide beams are specifically designed for SES’s expanding cable neighborhood in Latin America, while its Ku-band HTS spot beams will provide expansion capacity to serve the dynamic aeronautical and maritime markets and other traffic-intensive applications, such as cellular backhaul or broadband delivery services.

SES-14 also carries the Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD), a hosted payload for NASA, whose goal is to improve the understanding of the thermosphere-ionosphere. GOLD will transmit data from a geostationary orbit at a fast pace, to build up a full-disk view every half hour, providing detailed large-scale measurements of the response of the upper atmosphere to forcing from the Sun, the magnetosphere, and the lower atmosphere.

SES-14 was built by Airbus Defence and Space in its plant in Toulouse, France, using the E3000 EOR platform. It is the 119th satellite from this manufacturer to be launched by Arianespace, and also is the second based on the Eurostar E3000 EOR platform.

Al Yah 3

Al Yah 3 is the second satellite launched by Arianespace for the United Arab Emirates operator Yahsat (Al Yah Satellite Communications Company), following Al Yah 1, launched in 2011.

With the launch of Al Yah 3, Yahsat’s commercial Ka-band coverage will be extended to an additional 20 markets, reaching 60% of Africa’s population and over 95% of Brazil’s population.

Al Yah 3 is positioned at 20° West Longitude.

The Al Yah 3 satellite carries 53 active Ka-band user beams and four gateway beams, and produces approximately 8.0 kilowatts of payload electrical power. The Ka-band spot beams provide two-way communications services to facilitate high-speed delivery of data to end-user applications such as broadband Internet and corporate networking as well as IP backhaul for telecommunications service providers.

Al Yah 3 was built by Orbital ATK using its new GEOStar-3 hybrid platform, the first application of this platform.

It is the 27th Orbital ATK satellite to be launched by Arianespace, a series that started with the TOPEX-Poseidon mission in 1992.

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