A european rocket roared into space from a pad in French Guyana yesterday, placing into orbit a surveillance satellite expected to give France's military new abilities to spy worldwide...
PARIS A European rocket roared into space from a pad in French Guyana yesterday, placing into orbit a surveillance satellite expected to give France’s military new abilities to spy worldwide.
The satellite and six smaller scientific ones were placed into orbit about an hour after liftoff. The Helios 2A military satellite, the rocket’s main cargo, is to rotate in sun-synchronous orbit about 435 miles above the Earth.
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Among expected functions, the satellite is to monitor possible weapons proliferation, prepare and evaluate military operations and digitally map terrain for cruise-missile guidance, the French Defense Ministry said.
Helios 2A is said to be able to spot objects as small as a textbook anywhere on Earth. Its infrared sensors will allow France’s military to gather information at night from space for the first time.
Helios 1B, which was launched in 1999, suffered a power problem and the military let it disintegrate in the atmosphere two months ago. The first satellite in the series, Helios 1A, went up in 1995 and is still operating.