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France to launch military reconnaissance satellite

The Ariane 5 GS rocket will launch the Helios 2B satellite on Wednesday. Image credit: ESA

PARIS (BNS): France will launch its military reconnaissance satellite, Helios 2B, from the French Guiana space centre near here on Wednesday.

An Ariane 5 GS rocket carrying the satellite is scheduled to blast off from the space centre at Kourou at 1626 GMT, the French Defence Ministry said. The satellite will strengthen strategic autonomy of France and Europe, it added. 

The previous two satellites of the same group – Helios 1A and Helios 2A – were put into orbit in 1995 and 2004 respectively and are still operational.

“With their global reach, Helios satellites allow identification of warning signs of imminent crisis and terrorist threats, pursuit of military operations in distant theaters, and verification of compliance with treaties on disarmament and nonproliferation,” the Ministry said.

Helios 2B will significantly increase the number of photographs taken while reducing the time needed for their acquisition, it added.

The military satellites have been produced in partnership with Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece.

Italy and Germany will also have access to the satellite system under bilateral agreements for exchange of data obtained by their COSMO-SkyMed and SAR-Lupe radar satellites respective, it said.

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