ERS-2 was successfully launched by Ariane on Flight 72 during the night of Thursday 20 / Friday 21 April 1995 at 22h44 Kourou time (01h44 GMT, 03h44 Paris time) and placed into polar orbit 780 km above the Earth.
The telemetry data received some minutes after the launch at ESA'S space operations centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany even before satellite separation from the launcher showed that ERS-2 was in good working order.
During the first two orbits, a sequence of delicate manoeuvres was successfully completed: in particular, deployment of the solar arrays and the various antennas.
Under the overall supervision of ESOC, seven ground stations around the world were involved in this first phase. Over the next two weeks, the operational team will switch on all the satellite's instruments in turn. A first set of images and data will be available shortly after that.
Following a three month commissioning phase, ERS-2 - which has a lifetime of 30 months will operate for nine months in tandem with ERS-1, which was launched on 16 July 1991 and is still in good working order (see ESA Press Release N° 13-95).