Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ariane 5's seventh launch of '09 set for Thursday

A European Space Agency rocket is set to carry a French military observation satellite into earth orbit on Thursday following a one week launch delay due to an issue with the rocket's core stage liquid helium plumbing.

The HELIOS 2B satellite was built for the French Ministry of Defense, and will orbit the earth as a military observatory to keep track of world activities.

The Ariane 5 GS rocket is set to make it's seventh launch of the year from the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Thursday, December 17 at 11:26:07 am EST.

Ariane 5 will launch from the northern South American coastline and steer north-northeast out over the northern Atlantic Ocean. Ariane's second stage will then carry the satellite over the eastern section of Quebec, Canada and up the latitudes toward the north pole region at T+26 minutes, 33 seconds.

Spacecraft separation should occur on time at 12:25:23 pm EST, near western Australia.

The HELIOS 2B will be deployed into a Sun-synchronous polar orbit. As the observation satellite orbits the earth from pole to pole, it will have a larger coverage region of the globe.

The satellite will wear many hats as it maps uncharted regions and create 3-D landscape images for better intelligence for the countries of France, Greece, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

HELIOS was built by several European aerospace companies such as Thales Alenia Space, with EADS Astrium as the prime contractor.

Ariane 5 will mark it's 49th launch on Thursday; and this will also mark the 193rd Ariane rocket flight

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