Encyclopedia Astronautica
Helios 2



helios2.jpg
Helios 2
Credit: ESA
French military surveillance satellite. One launch, 2004.12.18. French military surveillance satellite series which began service in 2004.

Helios II comprised two four-metric ton satellites, Helios IIA and IIB, which were to deliver improved performance relative to their Helios I predecessors (in terms of resolution capability, number of images they can take, and night sight), and an enhanced user ground segment.

The Helios program was Europe's military optical reconnaissance system consisting of both a space and a ground segment, which commenced service in 1995, jointly funded by the French, Italian and Spanish governments. The Helios I optical observation satellites, launched in July 1995 and December 1999 respectively, could acquire high resolution images of any point on the globe, with daily revisit capability. The new Helios II system was to be able to process data from both the Helios I and the Helios II satellites, while remaining open to future space-based intelligence systems. The French Ministry of Defense procurement agency DGA ran the program, retained direct control over the management of the ground segment, and delegated the space segment responsibility to the French space agency CNES.

For the first and second generations of the Helios program, the French Ministry of Defense procurement agency DGA and the French national space agency CNES selected EADS Astrium as prime contractor for the satellites - constructing and integrating the satellite bus and payload, supplying the attitude and orbit control system and developing the flight software and electrical ground support equipment - as well as for the user ground segments, requiring the development of a more ambitious, open-ended second-generation system compatible with both Helios I and II satellites.

First Launch: 2004.12.18.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Ariane 5 The Ariane 5 was a completely new design, unrelated to the earlier Ariane 1 to 4. It consisted of a single-engine Lox/LH2 core stage flanked by two solid rocket boosters. Preparatory work began in 1984. Full scale development began in 1988 and cost $ 8 billion. The design was sized for the Hermes manned spaceplane, later cancelled. This resulted in the booster being a bit too large for the main commercial payload, geosynchronous communications satellites. As a result, development of an uprated version capable of launching two such satellites at a time was funded in 2000. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Ariane 5 French orbital launch vehicle. The Ariane 5 was a completely new design, unrelated to the earlier Ariane 1 to 4. It consisted of a single-engine Lox/LH2 core stage flanked by two solid rocket boosters. Preparatory work began in 1984. Full scale development began in 1988 and cost $ 8 billion. The design was sized for the Hermes manned spaceplane, later cancelled. This resulted in the booster being a bit too large for the main commercial payload, geosynchronous communications satellites. As a result, development of an uprated version capable of launching two such satellites at a time was funded in 2000. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • CNES French agency overseeing development of spacecraft. Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, Paris, France. More...
  • DGA French agency overseeing development of spacecraft. Delegation Generale de l'Armament, France. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Kourou After the agreement with newly independent Algeria for France to evacuate their launch sites in that country, a location near Biscarosse was selected for French missile testing. However since only launches westwards across the Bay of Biscay could be made from this site, it was unsuitable for France's Diamant orbital launch vehicle. After reviewing 14 potential sites, a location in the South American French colony of Guiana was selected. This would allow over-water launches to a tremendous range of possible orbital inclinations -- from -100.5 deg to 1.5 deg. Being near the equator, it would provide the maximum assist from the earth's rotation for launches into equatorial orbits. The decision was formalized in April 1964 and in July 1966 ELDO chose the site for future launches of the Europa II launch vehicle. More...

Helios 2 Chronology


2004 December 18 - . 16:26 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELA3. LV Family: Ariane 5. Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5Gp. LV Configuration: Ariane 5G+ V165 (520).
  • Helios 2A - . Mass: 4,200 kg (9,200 lb). Nation: France. Agency: DGA. Manufacturer: EADS Astrium. Program: Helios. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military surveillance satellite. Spacecraft: Helios 2. USAF Sat Cat: 28492 . COSPAR: 2004-049A. Apogee: 690 km (420 mi). Perigee: 688 km (427 mi). Inclination: 98.0770 deg. Period: 98.39 min. Summary: First of two new-generation French military surveillance satellites. Last flight of Ariane 5G model. Launch delayed from December 10..

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