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Ariane 5 Launches French Helios 2B Satellite

KOUROU, French Guiana --- Arianespace has successfully launched the HELIOS 2B observation satellite. Following a flight lasting 59 minutes and 20 seconds, the Ariane 5 launch vehicle precisely injected the HELIOS 2B satellite into its sun-synchronous polar orbit.

The latest successful launch of an Ariane 5, the 7th in 2009, confirms that Arianespace’s launch service & solutions continue to set the global standard for all manufacturers and operators, whether civil or military.

With this launch, Ariane 5 has once again demonstrated its ability to handle a complete range of missions, from government launches into sun-synchronous orbit to the largest payloads into geostationary orbit.

This was the 49th launch of an Ariane 5 and the 35th successful launch in a row.

With today’s mission, Arianespace closes out a very successful year, setting a record with 7 flawless launches of Ariane 5 in 2009.

Supporting security and defense

The Ariane 5 launcher is a key to the development of a common European security and defense policy, in which the space segment plays a pivotal role. HELIOS 2B was the 33rd military payload to be lofted by the European launcher.

Arianespace’s services cover all mission requirements of the European armed forces, with the following payloads successfully placed into orbit:
-- Optical observation: HELIOS 1A, launched in 1995, HELIOS 1B in 1999, and HELIOS 2A in 2004.
-- Telecommunications: Syracuse I, II and III systems (France), Sicral 1 (Italy), Skynet 4 and 5 (United Kingdom), Hispasat 1A, 1B and Spainsat (Spain), Turksat 1A, 1B, 1C and Eurasiasat (Turkey), and ComsatBw-1 (Germany).

The HELIOS 2B mission at a glance

This mission was carried out from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Liftoff was on Friday, December 18, 2009 at 1:26 p.m. local time in Kourou (16:26 UT, 5:26 p.m. in Paris).

HELIOS 2B is an element of the second-generation spaceborne observation system for security and defense applications, conducted by France in conjunction with Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain. The program manager is the French DGA defense procurement agency DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) – a part of the French Ministry of Defense, which has assigned contracting authority for the space segment to CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), the French space agency.

HELIOS 2B weighed approximately 4,200 kg. at liftoff. It was built by EADS Astrium as prime contractor, leading a number of other European companies, including Thales Alenia Space, which was responsible for the satellite’s high-resolution imaging instrument. (ends)

Mission Accomplished for Arianespace - HELIOS 2B Is Now In Orbit