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Helios 2A, 2B

Helios 2A [Astrium]

The Helios program is 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, can acquire high resolution images of any point on the globe, with daily revisit capability.

Scheduled to enter service in 2004, Helios II comprises two four-ton satellites, Helios IIA and IIB, which will 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 ground resolution is about 50 cm.

This new system will 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 Defence procurement agency DGA runs the program, retains direct control over the management of the ground segment, and delegates the space segment responsibility to the French space agency CNES.

Nation: France
Type / Application: Reconnaissance, electro-optical
Operator: DGA
Contractors: Astrium
Equipment: ?
Configuration: SPOT Mk.3
Propulsion: ?
Power: Deployable solar array, batteries
Mass: 4200 kg
Orbit: 666 km × 683 km, 98.08 (#1); 670 km × 685 km, 98.10 (#2)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Helios 2A 2004-049A 18.12.2004 Ko ELA-3 Ariane-5G+ with Essaim 1, 2, 3, 4, PARASOL, Nanosat 01
Helios 2B 2009-073A 18.12.2009 Ko ELA-3 Ariane-5GS


Further Helios missions:

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