The Ariane 5 Generic launcher for Flight 165 is entering its final checkout
phase as preparations move ahead on schedule for a mid-day liftoff from the
Spaceport in French Guiana next Saturday.

Launch team members spent yesterday (Monday, December 13) filling the Ariane
5’s attitude control system with hydrazine and nitrogen propellant. This
system provides roll control during much of the mission, and also handles
three-axis control during satellite positioning maneuvers.

The fueling activity took place inside the Ariane 5 Final Assembly Building
at the Spaceport, where the launcher – complete with its payloads – is being
readied for its rollout to the launch pad on Friday, December 17.

Liftoff of Flight 165 is set for 1:26 p.m. on December 18 (16h26 GMT, 5:26
p.m. in Paris, and 11:26 a.m. in Washington, D.C.). This daytime launch
slot – and its precise liftoff time – is due to the mission’s northward
trajectory to Sun-synchronous orbit.

Flight 165’s primary payload is France’s Helios IIA military reconnaissance
platform, which was produced in a program that also involves Belgium and
Spain. Helios IIA is accompanied by six small-sat auxiliary payloads: four
Essaim electronic intelligence (ELINT) system demonstrators for the French
defense procurement agency (DGA); the Parasol payload from France’s CNES
space agency for studies of the Earth’s climate, and the Spanish Nanosat
micro-satellite technology demonstrator.