Arianespace and ESA have this morning confirmed the new launch date as May 14th. The official press release is as follows:
“Now that additional checks on the Ariane 5 ECA launcher have been completed, Arianespace and ESA have set the launch date of Herschel and Planck for Thursday 14 May.
In the meantime, the preparation of the two satellites for launch continues flawlessly at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Herschel and Planck have already been fuelled with hydrazine. Planck’s three-stage active cryogenic cooler, needed to keep the instruments at extremely cold temperatures, has been filled with helium-3 and helium-4. Herschel’s cryogenic tanks are also being filled with superfluid helium.
Planck was also integrated with the Ariane 5 launcher, and is now waiting to be covered with the SYLDA element. This structure is needed to both encapsulate Planck during launch and to support the upper passenger – Herschel”.
Excellent news, as you might imagine! Herschel’s cryogenic tanks are now filled at about the 95% level, and we now await final integration with the Ariane. Heady days lie ahead!