The second German SAR-Lupe high-resolution military radar reconnaissance was

launched successfully July 2 and has begun sending signals to ground controllers, the satellite’s prime contractor, OHB-System AG, announced July 3.

Once in operation, the satellite will join an identical spacecraft already in orbit and will fulfill Germany’s obligations to France as part of a bilateral image-sharing regime that includes France’s optical high-resolution

Helios 2 satellite.

The 720-kilogram SAR-Lupe satellite, the second of five identical spacecraft scheduled for launch by late 2008, was placed into a 500-kilometer orbit by a Russian Cosmos 3M rocket from northern Russia’s PlesetskCosmodrome.

Under a data-sharing agreement between the French and German defense ministries, Germany will have access to France’s Helios-2 data once two of the five SAR-Lupe satellites are operational. Ground facilities in France and Germany have been built to permit each nation access to the other’s satellites.

Bremen, Germany-based OHB-System said the latest SAR-Lupe is expected to be handed over to the German armed forces by the end of July.

The launch marks the third European radar satellite successfully orbited in less than a month. The first of

four planned Italian Cosmo-Skymed satellites, for both military and civil/commercial applications depending on image sharpness, was launched by a Boeing Delta 2 rocket

June 7. Once operational, the first Cosmo-Skymed will trigger a similar bilateral image-sharing agreement with France, but for both civil and military users.

On June 15, a Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr rocket placed Germany’s civil/commercial TerraSAR-X radar satellite into orbit.