These photos show the loading of Egypt’s TIBA 1 communications satellite (left) and the European Space Agency’s CHEOPS scientific satellite (right) on an Antonov An-124 cargo plane at Toulouse-Blagnac airport in France for transport to Kourou, French Guiana. Credit: Airbus Defense and Space/P. Masclet/Master Films
A European-built communications satellite, manufactured in secret for the Egyptian government, joined a European Space Agency exoplanet observatory aboard a Ukrainian Antonov An-124 cargo plane for a trans-Atlantic flight Wednesday to begin final launch preparations in French Guiana.
The TIBA 1 communications satellite and ESA’s Characterizing Exoplanet Satellite, or CHEOPS, were loaded into the Antonov cargo plane at Toulouse-Blagnac airport in France, near an Airbus spacecraft factory.
The heavy-duty aircraft transported the satellites — both inside climate-controlled shipping containers — on a trans-Atlantic journey to the airport in Cayenne, French Guiana, where they landed Wednesday afternoon. The two spacecraft were expected to travel by truck to the nearby Guiana Space Center in Kourou, where technicians will remove the satellites from their containers and prepare them for launch.
The TIBA 1 spacecraft will launch in tandem with an Inmarsat mobile communications satellite on an Ariane 5 rocket set for liftoff Nov. 22. CHEOPS will launch as ...