"Being on hosted commercial satellites gives us, NASA, a new cost-effective tool in our toolbox for doing science", Elsayed Talaat, heliophysics chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a teleconference yesterday (Jan. 24).
It could have been an expensive glitch. A satellite being used for NASA's Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, mission was also onboard. "SES has established a telemetry and telecommand connection to its SES-14 spacecraft and confirms that the spacecraft is in good health with all subsystems on board are nominal". "It will revolutionize our understanding of how the sun and the space environment affect our upper atmosphere".
The Ariane 5 blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana, at 5:20 p.m. ET Thursday evening carrying an SES communications satellite and another owned by Yahsat. However, in a statement from SES, it's been confirmed that despite the unusual launch the satellite has, indeed, made it into space safely.
The Ariane 5 rocket lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana carrying Luxembourg-based satellite operator's SES-14 and Al Yah 3 communications satellites, along with NASA's $53 million GOLD instrument created to study the Earth's upper atmosphere and space weather. GOLD, which is a bit bigger than a microwave, rode piggyback on SES-14. Built on the Airbus Eurostar E3000 satellite bus, the 9,751-pound (4,423-kilogram) spacecraft will provide aeronautical and maritime mobility connectivity, wireless communications, broadband delivery, and video and data services over North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, the North Atlantic and parts of Europe, replacing the NSS-806 satellite for SES of Luxembourg.
The latest launch is the first of a planned 14 missions this year using the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-lift Soyuz and lightweight Vega.
And the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope - a joint NASA-ESA-Canadian observatory - is set to follow with a launch on an Ariane 5 rocket in early 2019.
According to an Arianespace statement issued this morning, initial investigations attributed the telemetry loss to a trajectory deviation. SES-14 would thus reach the geostationary orbit only four weeks later than originally planned.