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ESA Signs Herschel And Planck Launch Contract

Illustration of Herschel.

Paris, France (ESA) Dec 15, 2005
The European Space Agency and Arianespace signed a contract yesterday for the provision of an Ariane 5 ECA launcher for the Herschel and Planck spacecraft.

Herschel will study the birth of galaxies and stars and Planck the very early history of the Universe.

ESA Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, and Mr Jean-Yves Le Gall, for Arianespace, signed the contract during a ceremony that took place at ESA Headquarters in Paris, France.

The Ariane 5 ECA, an upgraded version of the previous Ariane 5 G ('generic') launcher, successfully completed its qualification after its demonstration flight on 12 February and a commercial launch on 16 November this year.

Herschel and Planck will be launched on the so-called 'long-fairing' version of Ariane 5 ECA to accommodate the two spacecraft, which are 7.5 metres and 4.2 metres high, respectively, with a total launch mass of 5.3 tons.

The launcher will deliver both spacecraft on the transfer orbit towards their final observation site an orbit around the second Lagrangian point (L2) situated at 1.5 million kilometres from Earth away from the Sun.

Ariane 5 ECA, featuring an enhanced thrust and control capability, is perfectly suited to carry heavy loads like the Herschel and Planck couple into this particular and highly energy-demanding trajectory to destination.

The Herschel and Planck launch is currently scheduled for launch in late 2007/early 2008.

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Planck overview
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Ambitious space projects such as a mission to Mars often provoke criticisms from skeptics is it really worth spending billions of dollars? Nikolai Sevastianov, who took the helm of Russian space corporation Energia this spring is confident that it won't be long before missions to space become profitable.







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