a flight lasting 60 minutes and 8 seconds, the Ariane
5 launch vehicle accurately injected Helios IIA into
Sun-synchronous polar orbit. The mission also deployed
six auxiliary payloads: four Essaim micro-satellites
and two other small spacecraft, Parasol and Nanosat.
its 16th successful mission, the standard Ariane 5G
("Generic") launcher continues to confirm
its technical and operational maturity. The launcher
also showed its ability to handle a complete range
of missions, from government launches into Sun-synchronous
orbit to huge commercial satellites into geostationary
orbit and scientific spacecraft into special orbits.
launch was from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French
Guiana, on Saturday, December 18, at 1:26 p.m. local
time in Kourou (1626 GMT, and 5:26 pm in Paris).
Boost for Defense
Ariane 5 launcher is a key to the development of a
common European defense and security policy, which
must include space capability. Helios IIA is the 23rd
military payload to be carried by Europe's Ariane
covers the spectrum of missions needed by European
Optical observation, including launches of Helios
1A in July 1995 and Helios 1B in December 1999 (for
France, Italy, Spain).
Telecommunications, with Syracuse I, II and II (France),
Sicral 1 (Italy), Skynet 4 (U.K.), Hispasat 1A and
1B (Spain), Turksat 1A, 1B, 1C and Eurasiasat (Turkey).
IIA is the initial satellite in France's second-generation
defense and security spaceborne observation system,
being conducted in conjunction with Belgium and Spain.
France's DGA defense procurement agency (Délégation
Générale pour l'Armement), which is
part of the French MoD, is in charge of the program.
It has assigned overall responsibility for the space
segment to the French space agency, CNES (Centre National
IIA weighed approximately 4,200 kg. at launch. It
was built by EADS Astrium as prime contractor, leading
a large team of European subcontractors, including
Alcatel Space, in charge of the high resolution imaging
Essaim program is designed to demonstrate the feasibility
of space-based detection of electromagnetic transmitters,
and evaluate the performance of this type of system.
EADS Astrium is prime contractor for the Essaim program.
Parasol microsat aims to characterize the radiation
and microphysical properties of clouds and aerosols.
French space agency CNES is prime contractor for the