Arianespace today announced that it had signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch the Artemis (Advanced Research & Technology Mission) satellite. Artemis will be lofted into geostationary transfer orbit by an Ariane 5 between June and August 2001, and positioned at 21.5 degrees East over central Africa.

ìBy signing this contract few months before the launch, Arianespace once again demonstrates its responsiveness and flexibility in meeting customer requirements,î Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Luton said.

Built by prime contractor Alenia Aerospazio, Artemis is an experimental telecommunications satellite. It will carry two payloads for high-speed inter-satellite links ñ one laser and one for S and Ka bands, as well as an L-band payload for mobile communications in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and neighboring maritime regions.

Artemis is designed to support real-time, high-speed data transmissions.
It will establish laser links with the Spot 4 Earth observation satellite (which was orbited by Ariane in March 1998), as well as Ka-band links with the International Space Station and the Envisat observation satellite (scheduled for launch this summer by an Ariane 5).

One of the missions assigned to Artemisí L-band payload is the transmission of GPS (Global Positioning System) correction signals within the scope of the European Global Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) satellite navigation program.

With this latest contract, Arianespaceís backlog now stands at 38 satellite payloads to be launched, plus 9 ATV missions for the International Space Station.

For more information on Artemis and the European Space Agency (ESA), see their website.