Europe to launch miniature satellites

Europe will send 50 tiny satellites into space in 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the world's first satellite, Arianespace has announced.

    Each satellite will carry out small experiments for two years

    The 50 nanosats each represent a different country and will weigh about 1kg.


    Each will carry out a small scientific experiment for about two years on behalf of university researchers.


    The cluster of 50 will be launched in a single shot by an Ariane rocket, Arianespace, which markets services for the European Space Agency (ESA) Ariane rocket, said in a press statement on Thursday.


    New era


    "Just like 50 years ago, when the first manmade Earth satellite was launched, these nanosatellites will signal a new era for scientists worldwide," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace's chief executive officer.


    The commemoration was decided at a congress of the Paris-based International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in Vancouver, Canada this week.


    Sputnik 1 was launched by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957, becoming the first manmade satellite in space. It was the size of a basketball and weighed 83kg.


    It was followed on 3 November by Sputnik 2, carrying a dog named Laika.



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