The launch of the European Space Agency's (ESA) environmental flagship, the Envisat polar platform, has been pushed from July 1999 into 2000 as a result of delays in the Ariane 5 programme. The timing is dependent on a successful Ariane 503 development mission due on 30 October. This will be followed by Arianespace-operated commercial missions, starting in about March 1999. A 23m-long, 12m-wide and 9m-high scale model of the Envisat spacecraft was unveiled in the ESA pavilion. The DASA-Matra Marconi Space-built spacecraft, which will weigh about 8,000kg (17,600lb) - is too heavy for an Ariane 4 booster. The satellite will carry 10 major environmental monitoring instruments, including an advanced synthetic aperture radar unit.

Source: Flight International