PARIS --- Jean-Yves Le Gall, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, and Gerard Brachet, Director General of French space agency CNES, today signed the launch service contract for the Helios IIA satellite.
The signing ceremony was also attended by French Ingenieur General de l'Armement Francois Fayard, Arianespace Chairman Jean-Marie Luton and CNES Chairman, Alain Bensoussan.
An Ariane 5 will launch the Helios IIA satellite into a sun-synchronous polar orbit during the second half of 2004 from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Helios IIA will weigh about 4,200 kg. at launch.
Helios IIA is the first second-generation satellite in the defense/security observation system operated by France in collaboration with other European countries. The French defense procurement agency DGA (Delegation pour l'Armement), part of the Ministry of Defense, is in charge of the program, and has named CNES system architect and contracting authority for the space segment. The program organization is very similar to that chosen in 1986 for the Helios I production phase.
The space segment covers both the satellites and ground control facilities. Two satellites are being built by Astrium as prime contractor. It leads a number of European subcontractors, including Alcatel Space, which is responsible for the high-resolution imaging instrument. CNES is in charge of the development and operation of the satellite control center, located at the Toulouse Space Center.
The control center monitors the satellites via CNES's network of tracking stations. In addition, it generates and transmits commands using the working program prepared by the Main Helios Control Center in Creil (near Paris). The Helios IIA satellite is the 19th military payload for the Ariane launcher. Arianespace's services cover the full range of spaceborne missions for European armed forces:
* Optical observation, with the launch of Helios 1A in July 1995 and Helios 1B in December 1999 (France, Italy and Spain).
* Telecommunications, with Syracuse I, II and III (France), Sicral 1 (Italy), Skynet 4 (U.K.), Hispasat 1A and 1B (Spain), Turksat 1A, 1B and 1C, and Eurasiasat 1 (Turkey).
"The Ariane launcher meets the needs of armed forces in France and throughout Europe," said Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall, "making it more than ever a key to the development of a common European security policy. I would like to emphasize the vital role played by CNES, through its commitment to programs such as Helios, and also thank the DGA for their renewed confidence."