ESA and Arianespace have agreed today on an early summer launch date for
Artemis, the agency’s new advanced telecommunications satellite.

The multi-purpose satellite – the precursor to new and advanced satellite
communication services – will be launched by Arianespace on an Ariane 5
from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 12 July 2001 sharing
its trip with the Japanese BSAT-2b direct broadcasting satellite.

Artemis is the most advanced telecommunication satellite developed by ESA
and will demonstrate new technologies and play a significant part in
developing Europe’s new worldwide satellite navigation system, new mobile
communication services and inter-satellite data relay.

Since its shipment to Kourou in March, extensive tests have been carried
out to ensure the satellite is in prime condition and on-going checks
between the Fucino-based control centre in Italy and the ground network of
operational world wide stations are underway.

A full rehearsal for the launch and early operational procedures has also
been completed and the satellite is now being prepared for its eight week
pre-launch campaign – an intensive programme of checks and validation of
all satellite functions and ground systems.

The Ariane 5 will place Artemis into geostationary transfer orbit when
ground operators at Fucino, Italy assume control of the spacecraft and
fire its onboard liquid apogee engine three times to take Artemis to
geostationary orbit, where it will be positioned at 21.5 degrees East over
central Africa.

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations

Tel: +33.(0)1.5369.7155

Fax: +33.(0)1.5369.7690

Note to editors:

During a ten year lifetime in space this orbital position will be
maintained by ion propulsion thrusters, a new technology used for the
first time on an ESA satellite. A breakthrough in propulsion techniques,
ion engines generate thrust at a very high efficiency and as a consequence
require significantly reduced amounts of propellant for orbit inclination

In contrast to conventional chemical propulsion, this new technology
ionises the noble gas, Xenon, and uses it as a propellant. A high voltage
system subsequently accelerates these ions, which leave the ion engines as
a neutralised beam, thus creating the necessary mass expulsion to provide
thrust to the spacecraft. A successful demonstration on Artemis could pave
the way for more compact and mass efficient satellite missions in the

The Artemis mobile communication payload includes an L-Band Land Mobile
(LLM) facility, with a wide ‘Eurobeam’, three spot beams and the
capability of handling up to 662 voice channels at any one time. This
means the satellite will offer unprecedented new facilities for the
development of vastly more sophisticated land and marine mobile
communication systems.

In addition, the satellite has a unique data-relay payload which will
speed up communication between satellites and help to bring Earth
observation images down to their appropriate terrestrial stations faster
and more efficiently. First to benefit will be the French Earth observing
satellite, Spot 4, using the optical section of this payload for a data
transmission experiment called SILEX (Semiconductor laser Inter-satellite
Link EXperiment).

After its launch later in 2001, ESA’s giant Earth ‘watchdog’ Envisat will
communicate data through the Ka-band section of the data-relay payload.

Artemis also carries a navigation payload that will enable users to
determine their position with a higher accuracy and a better availability.
It adds corrections and health checks to the existing satellite navigation
systems, thus supporting the first phase of Europe’s new navigation
programme Galileo.