26 December 2005 - NATO parliamentarians observe the launch of Ariane 5 rocket [Press Release]
Several members of the Assembly's Science and Technology Committee had a unique opportunity to observe the launch of the Europe's most powerful rocket Ariane-5 carrying two satellites from the Kourou base in French Guiana, on 21 December 2005.
This was the 25th launch of the Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle conducted by the Arianespace, world's leading commercial space transportation company, established by 12 European nations in 1980. Approximately 60 % of all telecommunications satellites in orbit today were launched by the Arianespace. The development of the spaceport in Kourou is a result of joint efforts by the Arianespace, European Space Agency (ESA) and the French Space Agency (CNES).
The payload of the Ariane 5 consisted of two satellites:
1. Indian telecommunications satellite INSAT 4A. This satellite will cover all of the Indian subcontinent.
2. Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellite. This satellite will significantly assist the European Meteorological Satellite Organization (EUMETSAT) to disseminate improved information and imagery for weather forecasting as well as other applications such as hydrology, agriculture and environmental/climate studies.
The launch was a complete success.
Members of the NATO PA delegation, led by Mr. Jérôme Rivière of France, met with and were briefed by the leading representatives of Arianespace, ESA, CNES, Indian Space Research Organization, EUMETSAT, and the Alcatel Alenia Space company (which designed the core part of the MSG satellite). The delegation could also see the facilities of the spaceport, and effectively follow the process of the launch.
The members of the STC were very impressed by the magnitude and importance of the activities in space, which are increasingly indispencible in many areas of life, including the field of defence and security. The Arianespace has launched a number of satellites for militaries of NATO countries. In fact, the next launch of Ariane 5, scheduled in February 2006, will orbit a Spanish military telecom sattelite.