Star One D2 & Eutelsat Quantum | Ariane 5 ECA

Lift Off Time
30 July 2021 – 21:00 UTC | 18:00 GFT
Mission Name
Star One D2 & Eutelsat Quantum
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
(Who paid for this?)
Eutelsat Quantum: Eutelsat
Star One D2: Embratel Star One
Ariane 5 ECA
Launch Location
Launch Area 3 (ELA-3), Guiana Space Center, Kourou, French Guiana 
Payload mass
Eutelsat Quantum: 3,461 kg
Star One D2
: 6,187 kg
Where did the satellites go?
Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO)
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
No, this is not a capability of Arianespace
Where did the first stage land?
It crashed into the Atlantic ocean
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
No, this is not a capability of Arianespace
Were these fairings new?
This was the:
– 6th Arianespace launch of 2021
– 72nd orbital launch attempt of 2021 (70th successful)
– 110th Ariane 5 mission
– 284th Arianespace mission
Where to watch
Official replay

How did it go?

Arianespace successfully launched the Eutelsat Quantum and Star One D2 satellites atop an Ariane 5 ECA rocket on July 30, 2021. The rocket lifted off from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, taking the satellites to a geostationary transfer orbit.

The One Star D2 satellite, which sat in the upper berth of the fairing, was released first. After a series of burns the SYLDA payload adaptor, which encases the lower payload, was jettisoned. This was then followed by the release of the Eutelsat Quantum satellite from the lower berth of the fairing.

The Ariane 5 takes off (Credit: ESA)

What is the Eutelsat Quantum?

The Quantum satellite is the very first reprogrammable commercial telecommunications satellite operating in the Ku band, a high frequency radio range. It was developed under an ESA Partnership Project with manufacturer Airbus and operator Eutelsat, making it the first in a new fleet of fully reconfigurable satellites.

The satellite has in-orbit reprogrammable features making it incredibly flexible as it can repeatedly adjust and respond to changing demands while in orbit. It will be capable of adapting to new commands in coverage, frequency, power usage and will even be able to change its orbital position. Quantum has an expected lifespan of 15 years, and will be joined by another six Eutelsat satellites being launched over the coming three years.

Quantum will be primarily used for data transmission and secure communications. Redirectable beams can be moved in near real time to give information to passengers on moving ships and planes. It will also provide extensive coverage to the Middle East North Africa region.

The Quantum satellite inside a radio frequency test chamber (Credit: ESA)

What is the Star One D2?

The Star One D2 is a communications satellite, and the 7th satellite in the Star One satellite fleet. The first satellite in the fleet, the Star One C1, was launched on 31 August, 2007, also on an Ariane 5 ECA. This is the third satellite in the fleet to be manufactured by SSL, formerly Space Systems/Loral, LLC.

The D2 satellite will be equipped with C-, Ku-, Ka-, and X-band payloads, which will provide highspeed broadband, television broadcast, and telecommunications services across South America, Mexico, Central America, and areas of the Atlantic Ocean. It is based on the GEO communications and remote sensing platform, the SSL 1300 bus. Similarly to Quantum, this satellite is designed to be operational for 15 years.

A rendering of the Star One D2 in orbit (Credit: Maxar)
The Star One D2’s reflectors undergoing testing (Credit: Maxar)

What is the Ariane 5 ECA?

The Ariane 5 ECA is a European heavy-lift launch vehicle developed by Arianespace for the European Space Agency. Regarded as one of the most reliable launch vehicles in the world, the Ariane 5 has launched 109 times since 1996 with a 95.4% success rate. The rocket flew 82 consecutive missions without failure before suffering a partial failure in January 2018. The Ariane 5 launches from the European Spaceport in French Guiana, a spaceport close to the equator, which allows the rocket to take advantage of the Earth’s greater rotation speed there and boost the launch performance. 

The ECA version of the Ariane 5 is capable of launching two large satellites, one on top of the other, using an adapter known as the Système de Lancement Double Ariane (SYLDA). The adapter covers the lower satellite as it supports the higher satellite. When the time comes for satellite deployment, the top satellite is released first, the SYLDA is then jettisoned, and the bottom satellite is released last.

Two satellites, the ABS-2 and the Athena-Fidus, are installed in the Ariane 5’s payload adaptor in a dual launch configuration (Credit: Arianespace)


Two P241 solid rocket boosters (SRBs) are attached to the sides of the rockets main stage. They are fueled with a mix of ammonium perchlorate (AP) (68%), aluminium fuel (18%), and Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) (14%). Each booster provides about 7,080 kN (1,590,000 lbf) of thrust, burning for 130 seconds before crashing into the ocean. They are usually left to sink to the bottom of the ocean, but similarly to the Space Shuttles SRB, it is possible to recover them using parachutes. When this is done it is for post-flight analysis, and the boosters are not reusable.

Main Stage

The Ariane 5 has a cryogenic H173 main stage, called the EPC (Étage Principal Cryotechnique — Cryotechnic Main Stage), which burns for 540 seconds. It is comprised of a main tank, which is 30.5 m tall and has two compartments, one compartment for liquid hydrogen (LH2) and the other for liquid oxygen (LOx). A Vulcain 2 engine sits at the base and provides vacuum thrust of 1,390 kN (310,000 lbf).

The cryogenic main stage (Credit: Arianespace)

Second Stage

The ECA has an upper stage called the ESC-A (Étage Supérieur Cryotechnique — Cryogenic Upper Stage), and uses an HM7B engine, which is fuelled by liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOx). The stage provides 67 kN (15,000 lbf) in vaccum, has an ISP of 446 seconds, and will burn for 945 seconds.

The cryogenic upper stage (Credit: Arianespace)

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