Mission Update

Mission Update

Ariane 5 is readied for its launch of the Helios 2B reconnaissance satellite

December 2, 2009

Arianespace’s wrap-up Ariane 5 flight of 2009 has entered final preparations for its liftoff next week with France’s Helios 2B military observation satellite.

This seventh launch of the year is set for 1:26 p.m. on December 9 from the Spaceport in French Guiana, with its payload to be injected into a Sun-synchronous polar orbit during a mission lasting 59 min., 23 sec.  

Helios 2B will weigh approximately 4,200 kg. at liftoff and was produced by EADS Astrium as prime contractor.  The satellite’s European industrial team also includes Thales Alenia Space, which supplied the reconnaissance satellite’s high resolution imaging instrument.  

Managing the Helios 2B program is the French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement).  The DGA assigned contracting authority for the space segment to the French CNES space agency – the direct customer for Arianespace on this December 9 mission.

An Ariane 5 GS is being used for this 49th launch of Arianespace’s workhorse vehicle.  The GS version is tailored for low-Earth orbit payloads such as Helios 2B, and is operated along with the Ariane 5 ECA on missions to geostationary transfer orbit that carry telecommunications satellite payloads.  As a result, Arianespace utilizes two standardized launcher configurations, ensuring high reliability and availability through production repeatability.

Helios 2B is the second satellite in a new-generation spaceborne observation system for military applications that has been created by France in conjunction with Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece.   All of the previous Helios 2 and Helios 1 satellites have been launched by Ariane vehicles, beginning with Helios 1A in July 1995.

Launch Window for the Helios 2B mission

Universal time (GMT)

Paris, France

Kourou, French Guiana

04:26 p.m. on December 9, 2009

05:26 p.m. on December 9, 2009

01:26 p.m. on December 9, 2009

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