French Launch Third Spy SatelliteDec 20, 2004 00:01 UTC
France launched an Ariane rocket from French Guiana Saturday to lift into space a third spy satellite payload. The Helios 2A satellite and six microsatellites successfully separated from the rocket an hour after launch. EADS and Astrium cooperated to build the satellite, which employs infra-red monitoring systems to be able to detect the running status of equipment, such as vehicles. The satellite will be functional during night, but not over cloud cover. France spent about 95 percent of the costs associated with the program, estimated to total about $2.6 billion. -Reuters: Ariane Rocket Launches French Spy Satellite.