The Hispasat 36W-1 satellite, based on the SmallGEO platform, lifted off on a Soyuz rocket at 01:03 GMT this morning from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
SmallGEO is Europe’s response to the market demand for more flexible, modular telecommunications platforms. It marks the first time the German satellite manufacturing company OHB System AG have been the prime contractor for a telecommunications satellite mission. Its Hispasat payload marks the first ESA partnership with a Spanish operator.
The three-tonne satellite was released by Soyuz into its transfer orbit 29 minutes after liftoff this morning. It will now use its own thrusters to make its way to its final destination over the course of the next few weeks.
It is heading towards ‘geostationary’ orbit at an altitude of 36 000 km over the equator, where it will take a day to circle Earth and therefore appear to hang over the same point, in this case at 36°W over the Atlantic Ocean.
OHB will test the satellite’s health and performance, making sure the sensitive technology made it unscathed through the violence of the launch.
After all is deemed well, they will hand the control over to Hispasat and the satellite will begin providing broadband services to Europe, South America and the Canary Islands.