Arianespace and ESA have jointly agreed to postpone the launch of the Herschel and Planck satellites, which were initially planned for April 16, 2009, to facilitate additional ground segment checks.
A new launch date will be announced at the end of March. The decision to postpone the launch by a few weeks was needed to finalize the validation of the spacecraft operations procedures following recent software updates. In the meantime, the preparation of the two spacecraft for launch continues as planned at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Arianespace also adds in that this was, indeed, a joint decision that will allow for further fine-tuning and optimization of spacecraft operations procedures following recent software updates. The heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission was originally scheduled for April 16th from Arianespace's launch base at the Spaceport in French Guiana. A new date is
expected to be announced at the end of March. ESA program officials said pre-launch preparation activity with the two spacecraft continues at the Spaceport. The Ariane 5 ECA for this mission remains in the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building, and is ready for the
integration of Herschel and Planck when the go-ahead is given.
The Herschel space telescope and Planck observatory are designed to provide new information on the universe's origins. Planck will measure temperature variations across the cosmic microwave background, providing astronomers with an unprecedented view of the
universe's first moments and the formation of galaxies. Herschel will provide new data on how stars and galaxies are formed, as well as offer insights on how they continue to evolve.