"14 May 2009 ESA PR 10-2009
Two of the most ambitious missions ever attempted to unveil the secrets of the darkest, coldest and oldest parts of the Universe got off to a successful start this afternoon with the dual launch of ESA's far infrared space telescope Herschel and cosmic background mapper Planck on an Ariane 5 rocket (...)
"Herschel, equipped with the largest mirror ever launched into space, will observe a mostly uncharted part of the electromagnetic spectrum so as to study the birth of stars and galaxies as well as dust clouds and planet-forming discs around stars. In addition, it will be the most effective tool ever devised to look for the presence of water in remote parts of the Universe.
"Planck is designed to map tiny irregularities in fossil radiation left over from the very first light in the Universe, emitted shortly after the Big Bang. Planck will have enough sensitivity to reach the experimental limits of what can be observed (...)
"Herschel and Planck will enable us to go very far back in time, to the origins of our Universe and it is only by better understanding our Universe's overall past that we can help to better define the future of our planet, the Earth (...)"
The launch was successful, but whether the two satellites, worth roughly EUR 1 Billion, will work properly remains to be seen. Let's hope for the best. As opposed to Hubble, Planck and Herschel can not be repaired. They are simply out of reach for the Space Shuttle.