2B is scheduled to replace the 2A launched in 2004. These ‘second generation’ Helios s weigh 4.2 tons. It will orbit the earth at a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700 km and is designed for useful mission life of five years.
The French military reconnaissancewas built by Astrium, its high resolution imaging payload was developed by The Thales Alenia. The Helios satellites were developed in partnership with Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece. Germany and Italy are also provided access to the Helios 2 system, under bilateral exchange agreements which also include e Cosmo-SkyMed -Lupe radar imaging satellites.
December 10, 2009: Helios-2B was launched December 18, 2009 after a delay of several days. The satellite was launched on an Ariane 5 GS rocket oriuginally scheduled for launch on Flight 193 on December 9, 2009 from the French Guiana space centre at Kourou.