Two Belgian satellites successfully launched into orbit
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    Two Belgian satellites successfully launched into orbit

    © Belga

    Two Belgian satellites are among dozens shot into orbit on the night of Wednesday to Thursday in an unannounced operation, completed after several delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The mission was launched out the Guiana Space Centre in the French Guianese commune of Kourou, a spaceport for French and Europe.

    Belgian-made nanosatellites Picasso and Simba were among a total of 53 micro and nanodevices put into orbit by the De Vega launch rocket.

    Picasso, from the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA) will map the distribution of ozone across the Earth’s stratosphere using the light filtering across the planet’s atmosphere during sunrise and sunset.

    Simba, by the Royal Meteorological Institute (IRM) will track climate change on Earth by measuring the balance of energy it receives from the Sun and the energy it loses to outer space.

    The successful mission put 756 kilograms of space devices into orbit for a total of 21 customers from 13 countries, with the lightest satellite weighing 1 kilogram and the heaviest one up to 500 kilograms.

    The launch on Wednesday evening was announced only a few hours before it happened, after it had been delayed several times amid the coronavirus pandemic and adverse weather conditions.

    The De Vega rocket was airborne for less than two hours before mission operators on the ground declared the operation a success, De Morgen reports.

    The rocket released the first seven microsatellites within the first hour of flight while the remaining 46 were shot into orbit in less than three minutes and about 1:42 hours after launch.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times