Athena-Fidus was launched on 6th February 2014 from the Guyana Space Centre in French Guyana during an Ariane 5 ECA rocket double-launch. The other passenger was a 6,300-kg ABS (Asia Broadcast Satellite, based in Hong Kong) satellite built by Space System Loral. The Athena-Fidus spacecraft was transported from Cannes to Kourou in an Antonov cargo plane on 9th December 2013.
The Athena-Fibus satellite at the Guyana Space Centre.
© CNES/ESA/Arianespace/Optique Vidéo CSG, 2014
32 minutes after launch, after separating from the launcher, the satellite was inserted into its geosynchronous transfer orbit.
The positioning and initial testing phases were carried out by Thales Alenia Space from Cannes and Telespazio from Fucino.
Positioning operations lasted 11 days and involved 3 different 400 N burns from the apogee kick motor (AKM) to place the satellite in its operational geosynchronous orbit.
Then came the initial testing phase to determine the integrity of the platform and its French and Italian payloads. It essentially consisted of EHF and Ka band performance tests performed from the France Sud base for the French mission and from the Fucino and Vigna Di Valle stations for the Italian counterpart. This initial testing phase lasted for about 3 weeks, during which CNES provided access to S-band network stations.
Ground station during initial test phase, France Sud military base in Bram
Once this phase was completed, the industrial sites and military operational stations shared control for a day, before it was entirely transferred to the operative teams under the supervision of French National Defence (Joint Direction of Infrastructure Networks and Information Systems [EMA/DIRISI], and Defence Procurement Agency [DGA]).