PARIS (ESA PR) — In November 2020, the Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was launched into orbit from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Now, months later, the satellite has successfully passed what is known as the ‘in-orbit verification phase’, where its equipment is switched on and the instruments’ performance is checked.
Although the United Kingdom’s (UK) “Brexit” departure from the European Union (EU) on Jan. 1 will not affect its membership status in the European Space Agency (ESA), the nation’s participation in a number of European space programs is either ending or being curtailed.
On Christmas Eve, the UK and EU announced an agreement in principle that will govern trade, security and political relations after Brexit. Under the agreement, the UK’s participation in the:
Galileo satellite navigation and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) program will end;
Copernicus Earth observation satellite program will continue, contingent upon a further agreement to be worked out next year; and
EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EUSST) program will end, although the Britain will continue to receive data as a non-EU country.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, a joint U.S.-European satellite built to measure global sea surface height, has sent back its first measurements of sea level. The data provide information on sea surface height, wave height, and wind speed off the southern tip of Africa.
DARMSTADT, Germany (EUMETSAT PR) — Three days after the launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich from California, ESOC, ESA’s space Operations Centre, handed over flight operations of the Copernicus ocean-monitoring satellite to EUMETSAT.
Airbus Spain to lead industrial consortium: first Copernicus prime for Spain
MADRID (Airbus Defence and Space PR) – The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor for the new Land Surface Temperature Monitoring (LSTM) mission. LSTM is part of Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation programme for global monitoring. It is one of the six new missions, expanding the capabilities of the current Copernicus space component. The contract is valued at € 380 million which includes the development of one LSTM satellite, with an option for two further satellites.
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will soon be heading into orbit to monitor the height of the ocean for nearly the entire globe.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Preparations are ramping up for the Nov. 10 launch of the world’s latest sea level satellite. Since arriving in a giant cargo plane at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last month, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has been undergoing final checks, including visual inspections, to make sure it’s fit to head into orbit.
Set for launch in November, the Earth-observing satellite will closely monitor sea level and provide atmospheric data to support weather forecasting and climate models.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On Nov. 10, the world’s latest Earth-observing satellite will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. As a historic U.S.-European partnership, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft will begin a five-and-a-half-year prime mission to collect the most accurate data yet on global sea level and how our oceans are rising in response to climate change. The mission will also collect precise data of atmospheric temperature and humidity that will help improve weather forecasts and climate models.
DARMSTADT, Germany — Meeting on 30 June in virtual configuration, the Council of Europe’s operational satellite agency for weather and climate, EUMETSAT, approved the transition plan from the second to the third generation of Meteosat geostationary satellites for 2022-2026.
As part of this plan, EUMETSAT will move Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) spacecraft Meteosat-9 over the Indian Ocean in 2022 to replace the ageing Meteosat-8 and continue MSG observations of that region until at least 2025. Meteosat observations of the Indian Ocean started in 1998 with a first-generation satellite, Meteosat-5.
On 1 July 2020, the European Space Agency awarded contracts for the development and construction of six further Copernicus satellites.
Contracts with a value of more than 800 million euro are being awarded to space companies in Germany, a high percentage of which are SMEs.
The new satellites are intended to help find answers to the global challenges posed by climate change, population growth and environmental problems.
BONN, Germany (DLR PR) — Sentinel satellites are at the heart of Copernicus, Europe’s largest Earth observation programme. Sentinels are already reliably and continuously providing large amounts of data on the state of the climate, vegetation and oceans. Now, six more ‘Earth Guardians’, the High Priority Candidate Missions (HPCM), are being added.
A team of engineers in the U.S. and Europe subjected the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft to a battery of trials to ready it for liftoff later this year.
Once the state-of-the-art Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite launches in November, it will collect the most accurate data yet on sea level – a key indicator of how Earth’s warming climate is affecting the oceans, weather and coastlines. But first, engineers need to ensure that the spacecraft can survive the rigors of launch and of operating in the harsh environment of space. That’s where meticulous testing comes in.
KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched the Metop-C satellite for EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.
Arianespace’s eighth launch of the year, and the second using a Soyuz rocket, took place on Tuesday, November 6 at 9:47 p.m. (local time) from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the Sentinel-6A mission. Launch is currently targeted for November 2020, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NASA also has selected United Launch Services LLC (ULS) of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the Landsat 9 mission. The mission is currently targeted for a contract launch date of June 2021, while protecting for the ability to launch as early as December 2020, on an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
PARIS (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace and EUMETSAT announce the signature of a contract entrusting Arianespace with the launch of the first two Metop-SG satellites of the EUMETSAT Polar System of Second Generation (EPS-SG), plus an option for the launch of a third satellite, to be performed from the Guiana Space Center – Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
There’s was some good news this week for Airbus Safran Launchers and Arianespace, which were looking for a guaranteed number of orders for their new boosters.
The European Commission will commit to buying at least five Ariane 6 and two Vega C launches per year when both rockets are in operation, Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European Commission’s lead space commissioner, said Wednesday….
“We will aggregate our institutional launches to support those two launchers,” she said…
Bienkowska also said Europe’s confidence in the suitability of Ariane 6 and Vega C, both of which are single-use rockets, remains unshaken by the early success of SpaceX and Blue Origin in demonstrating their reusable rockets.
“We observe very closely the ongoing revolution in the launcher market, especially here in the United States, around the principle of reusability,” she said. “Europe’s answer is the development of the next-generation of cost effective, reliable and competitive European launchers: Ariane 6 and Vega C.”
The launch orders will be aggregated from the European Commission, ESA, Eumetsat and various national space agencies.
Ariane 6, which is the successor to Ariane 5, is expected to begin flight tests in 2020. The booster is designed to lift payloads weighing up to 10.5 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit.
The Vega C will be an upgraded version of the Vega booster, which can place payloads weighing up to 2.5 tonnes into orbit. The Vega C’s capacity will be increased by at least 300 kg. The booster will use a first stage engine being developed for Ariane 6.