March 18, 2009

ESA postpones Herschel-Planck launch

The European Space Agency says it has postponed the Herschel and Planck spacecraft launch that was initially planned for April 16.

The ESA said the Herschel and Planck missions will study the formation of stars and galaxies and the relic radiation from the Big Bang. The spacecraft are to be lifted into space in a dual launch configuration by an Ariane ECA rocket.

ESA officials said the decision to postpone the launch was needed to finalize the validation of the spacecraft's operational procedures following recent software updates.

A new launch date at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, is to be announced by the end of this month.