The UAE’s latest satellite was successfully launched on Wednesday, after months of delays caused by technical issues and Covid-19 restrictions.
Falcon Eye 2 achieved lift-off aboard an Arianespace Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, at 5.33am on December 2, marking the start of a 10-year mission.
Today, the Falcon Eye 2 satellite was successfully launched from French Guiana aboard the Soyuz rocket. A new achievement is added to the UAE’s record in the field of earth observation. We congratulate all those involved in the success of the project. pic.twitter.com/n2YSeOkSBO
Flight #VS24 – our latest mission with the medium-lift #Soyuz – has departed the Spaceport with the #FalconEye satellite as its passenger! Press “play” to relive the liftoff: pic.twitter.com/jh9q53MtMP
The 1,190kg spacecraft – developed for the UAE’s Armed Forces – separated nearly an hour later after two burns by the Fregat upper stage.
A statement released by Arianespace officials said: “The Falcon Eye satellite offers very-high-resolution optical observation capabilities, coupled with a high-performance ground segment to receive and process images.”
The launch comes after nearly nine months of delays, when a problem with the Fregat upper stage was discovered in March and all activities had to be suspended at the spaceport due to the coronavirus soon after. Two more launch dates were set on November 28 and 29, but both had to be scrubbed at the last minute due to bad weather conditions.
The satellite’s predecessor – Falcon Eye 1 – was lost due to a Vega launch failure last year, after an anomaly caused the destruction of both the rocket and the satellite minutes after lift-off.
The successful launch of the Falcon Eye 2 marked one more triumph in the UAE’s space ambitions and coincided with the country’s 49th National Day celebrations.
According to Arianespace, Falcon Eye 2 will have a dual mission: support the needs of UAE Armed Forces and provide commercial imagery for the market. “[We are] pleased to have served the space ambitions of the United Arab Emirates,” said Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace.