Liftoff is approved for December 18

Arianespace Flight 165 received its formal go-ahead for a liftoff on
December 18 as a result of the successful launch readiness review held today
at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

This review validated the launch readiness of Flight 165’s Ariane 5 vehicle
and its payloads, as well as the infrastructure at the Spaceport and the
network of tracking stations. With the review completed, final preparations
and arming of the launcher will be performed today, followed by its rollout
from the Final Assembly Building and transfer to the ELA-3 launch zone

Flight 165 is a northward mission that will deploy its payloads into
Sun-synchronous orbit. As a result, the liftoff is set for a precise moment,
rather than the traditional launch window of minutes or hours for a mission
to geostationary orbit. The launch time is set for 1:26 p.m. local Kourou
time on December 18 (16h26 GMT, 5:26 p.m. in Paris, and 11:26 a.m. in
Washington, D.C.).

Primary payload for Flight 165 is France’s Helios IIA military
reconnaissance platform, which was developed and built in a program that
also involves Belgium and Spain. The Helios IIA program is managed by
France’s defense procurement agency (DGA), with the French CNES national
space agency handling the lead responsibility for the satellite and its

Helios IIA is accompanied by six small-sat auxiliary payloads: four Essaim
electronic intelligence (ELINT) system demonstrators for the DGA; the CNES
Parasol payload for studies of the Earth’s climate, and the Spanish Nanosat
micro-satellite technology demonstrator.