French Helios 2B Spy Sat Sends Back First Test Images

PARIS — The French-led Helios 2B optical and infrared reconnaissance satellite tv for pc launched Dec. 18, 2009, aboard an Ariane 5 GS rocket has efficiently handed preliminary in-orbit

checkout and delivered its first take a look at pictures. Program managers count on the satellite tv for pc will probably be put into full operations in March.

The 4,200-kilogram Helios 2B, an equivalent copy of the Helios 2A satellite tv for pc launched in December 2004, will allow France and its junior companions in this system — Italy, Spain, Belgium and Greece, every with a 2.5 % possession stake—to double the quantity and frequency of the imagery they take down from the Helios 2 system.

Italy and Germany have signed separate image-exchange agreements with France for entry to Helios 2 in return for giving France entry to the Italian COSMO-Skymed and German SAR-Lupe radar reconnaissance spacecraft. Three of the 4 COSMO-Skymed satellites are in orbit, with the fourth set for launch in 2010. All 5 SAR-Lupe

spacecraft are operational.

Helios 1A, launched in 1995with a less-precise optical imager, stays totally operational and won’t be positioned right into a graveyard orbit earlier than 2011 or 2012, in keeping with Pascal Fintz, Helios 2 program supervisor on the French arms procurement directorate, DGA. Till

then, it is going to be used primarily for map-making capabilities. Helios 1B, launched in 1999, failed after 5 years in orbit.

Helios 2B will probably be positioned about 180 levels distant from Helios 2A within the 700-kilometer,near-polar low Earth orbit utilized by each satellites.

French protection authorities have categorised the bottom decision of the Helios spacecraft, however Helios 1 is ready to detect objects of about 1 meter in diameter, whereas Helios 2’s floor decision is about 35 centimeters, in keeping with officers educated about this system.

The 2-satellite Helios 2 system price about2billion euros ($2.9 billion) over 10 years, together with the development and launch of the 2 satellites and a devoted floor section with Helios 2 image-reception stations in France, Belgium and Greece, and a management middle in France.

The Italian and Spanish Helios floor community was a part of the funds of the Helios 1 program, wherein the 2 nations personal 14 % and seven %, respectively, and isn’t included within the Helios 2 prices. Germany’s Helios 2 floor section can be not included, however is a part of the Helios 2-SAR Lupe change settlement.

French protection officers mentioned Helios 2’s prices are damaged down as follows: 48 % for the satellites’ development, 18 % for system design, 15 % for the 2 launches, 13 % for the French, Belgian and Greek Helios 2 floor networks, 4 % for Helios 2 satellite tv for pc contract administration on the French house company, CNES, and a couple of % for the Helios 2 management middle.

The Helios satellites are programmed day by day throughout routine operations.

Orders are collected on the French Helios mission middle in Creil, which receives encrypted orders from the Italian middle in Pratica di Mare, close to Rome; the

Spanish middle in Torrejon; and the Belgian middle in Brussels.

Germany’s Helios 2 programming functionality, positioned in Getzdorf, is scheduled to enter operations in January. The Greek Helios tasking middle, in Tanagra, close to

Athens, is scheduled to be operational in mid-2010.

The Creil middle collates the day by day order and sends it to the Helios 2 management facility, positioned at CNES’s Toulouse website. CNES then converts the orders into uplink instructions

which can be delivered to the spacecraft through Earth stations at Aussaguel, on the Guiana Area Middle in French Guiana, and on the Kerguelen Islands.

As soon as taken, the photographs are encrypted utilizing every nation’s proprietary code, or utilizing a typical Helios code in instances the place pictures are ordered on behalf of a number of Helios member nations.

Helios 2A was launched aboard the identical GS model of Ariane 5, with a storable-propellant higher stage, which orbited Helios 2A in 2004. That launch carried with it six small satellites, together with the 4 French Essaim electronics-intelligence spacecraft.

To keep away from having to carry out a contemporary sequence of research of launcher compatibility, Helios 2B program managers determined to imitate the mass of six minisatellites by including lifeless weight below the Ariane5GS fairing. French officers mentioned they had been unable to search out appropriate copassengers for this launch regardless of the ample house and energy out there on the Ariane 5 automobile. The Helios2Blaunch used the final mannequin of the GS variant. Launch providers supplier Arianespace of Evry, France, has determined to concentrate on a single product line with the morepowerful ECA model. The Helios 2 satellites had been constructed by Astrium Satellites, which additionally constructed the Helios 2 wide-field imager. Thales Alenia Area constructed the 1,124-kilogram high-resolution imager and likewise offered the infrared system. Each had been working below contract to CNES, which was performing on behalf of DGA. CNES can be managing Helios 2B placement into ultimate orbital place, and its deliberate 5 years of operations.

The Dec. 18 launch was the seventh Ariane 5 liftoff of the yr for launch-services supplier Arianespace, a report for a calendar yr.

It was the thirty fifth consecutive success for the Ariane 5 rocket.

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