An experimental French weather satellite, the Peole, was launched into orbit on Saturday from the French space station at Kourou, in Guyana.
An experimental French weather satellite, the Peole, was launched into orbit on Saturday from the French space station at Kourou, in Guyana. Apart from a 65-minute delay due to cloud, the launch was perfect, according to the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) in France.
The space-shot was the sixth successful firing of the French Diamant-B rocket, and the sixth successful attempt by France to place a satellite in orbit around the earth.
The Diamant-B was first launched in March 1970, when it placed a West German satellite, the Dial, into orbit. This time the payload was a French satellite, the Peole, weighing 65 kilograms (143 lb). The Diamant-B placed it in an orbit around the Equator varying in height from 724 to 820 km (450-500 miles).
In previous launches the Diamant-B had shown signs of excessive vibration and there were fears for the delicate instrumentation of the satellite, but it was soon picked up from the tracking station at Ouagadougou, Upper Volta, and found to be functioning perfectly.
The Peole is the forerunner of a joint French - United States venture under which satellites will be launched to track high-level weather balloons. The precise tracking of the balloons will greatly improve understanding of the winds in the highest levels of the earth's atmosphere.
SYNOPSIS: At the French space station at Kourou, in Guyana, a successful launch of the latest French weather satellite -- the Peole. The Diamant-B which was to lob the 140-pound package into orbit around the Equator fired perfectly. Earlier there had been a 65-minute break in the count-down because cloud threatened to hide vital moments in the launch sequence. It was to prove the only snag in a perfect launch.
High-speed cameras were on hand to record the launch in ultra-slow motion. The space-shot gave French space-engineers a satisfying double-six -- it was the sixth successful firing of the Diamant-B rocket, and their sixth successful satellite launch. Earlier firings of the Diamant-B had shown signs of excessive vibration, and there were fears for the Peole's delicate instrumentation, but they proved unfounded.
The slender, graceful rocket streaked away from the launch-pad to lift the Peole satellite into an orbit round the Equator at a height varying between 450 and 500 miles. Previously this rocket has been used to launch a West German satellite, but this time the launch was an all-French effort. The Peole is the forerunner of a joint French-United States venture to study the upper atmosphere. Similar satellites will be launched to track free-floating balloons, and the information they send back to earth will advance our knowledge of the winds that blow on the edge of space.
The second stage ignited right on schedule.