Sentinel-1A is unloaded from the An-124 cargo jetliner after its arrival at Félix Eboué International Airport near French Guiana’s capital city.
Sentinel-1A is delivered to French Guiana for Arianespace's next Soyuz mission
Soyuz Flight VS07
Payload preparations for Arianespace's initial Soyuz flight in 2014 are ready to kick into gear following this week's arrival of Sentinel-1A – the first radar satellite for Europe's vast Copernicus Earth observation program – at French Guiana.
Sentinel-1A was transported by a chartered An-124 cargo jetliner that landed at Félix Eboué International Airport near French Guiana's capital city of Cayenne, and subsequently was unloaded for the spacecraft's transfer by road to the Spaceport – where it will be readied for launch.
Previously known as GMES, Copernicus is a European Space Agency (ESA) program in partnership with the European Commission. Its goal is to ensure European independence in the acquisition and management of environmental data concerning the planet, to support European authorities and policy-makers.
Sentinel-1A was designed and built by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, which also produced the Sentinel-1B “sister” satellite now being integrated in Rome for a future launch. Both of these spacecraft use the company's Prima platform – developed on behalf of the Italian space agency.
After Sentinel-1A's launch by Soyuz, it will be placed into a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 700 km. The spacecraft carries an advanced radar sensor to image Earth's surface through cloud and rain, in day or night conditions. Data will be collected by various European receiving centers and in Italy by the Matera-based space center's ground station.
The Sentinel programs being developed by ESA within the scope of Copernicus include five satellite families: Sentinel-1, designed to ensure the continuity of ERS and Envisat radar data; Sentinel-2 and -3, dedicated to Earth and ocean monitoring; and Sentinel-4 and -5, for meteorology and climatology, with a focus on studying the Earth atmosphere's composition.
Arianespace’s upcoming Soyuz mission with Sentinel-1A will mark the medium-lift vehicle’s seventh flight from French Guiana since its 2011 introduction at the equatorial launch site.
The first satellite dedicated to Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring programme arrived at Cayenne in French Guiana on 24 February 2014. Sentinel-1A is scheduled to be launched from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou on 3 April. By delivering timely information for numerous operational services, from monitoring ice in polar oceans to tracking land subsidence, Sentinel-1 is set to play a vital role in the largest civil Earth observation programme ever conceived.
The Sentinel-1A radar satellite has arrived at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to be prepared over the coming weeks for launch on 3 April.
Its launch will mark a new shift in Earth observation, focusing on operational missions to support users for decades to come.
This first mission carries an advanced radar sensor to image Earth’s surface through cloud and rain and regardless of whether it is day or night.
Delivered by an Antonov aircraft, it was greeted in Cayenne by heavy rain – rather apt considering this kind of weather will be no obstacle to its imaging capabilities from space.
Despite the weather, teams from Europe’s spaceport, Thales Alenia Space, and the Antonov crew unloaded the containers.
Svein Lokas, ESA’s launch campaign manager, said, “It was great to see our baby arrive safely and everyone worked efficiently to carefully unload the precious cargo.
“We now look forward to unpacking the satellite and getting it ready for its journey into space in a few weeks’ time.”
Once unloaded from the aircraft, the convoy was escorted through Cayenne to the launch site in Kourou.
Sentinel-1 has been left in its container to stabilise after its long journey. It will soon be moved to the ‘high bay’ for unpacking and testing before joining the Soyuz rocket that will take it into space.
Once in orbit, this new mission will deliver vital information for numerous services, from monitoring ice in the polar oceans to tracking land subsidence.
Moreover, Sentinel-1 is specifically designed for responding rapidly to aid emergencies and disasters such as flooding and earthquakes.
Sentinel-1, the first in the family of Copernicus satellites, will be used to monitor many aspects of our environment, from detecting and tracking oil spills and mapping sea ice to monitoring movement in land surfaces and mapping changes in the way land is used. It will also play a crucial role in providing timely information to help respond to natural disasters and assist humanitarian relief efforts.
The Sentinel-1 mission is a polar-orbiting satellite system for the continuation of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operational applications.
Sentinel-1 is a C-band imaging radar mission to provide an all-weather day-and-night supply of imagery for Copernicus user services. The first Sentinel-1 satellite will be ready for launch in spring 2014 and will be followed by the second satellite a few years later.
Dedicated to Copernicus, Sentinel-1 will ensure the continuity of C-band SAR data, building on ESA’s and Canada’s heritage SAR systems on ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat and Radarsat.
The SAR sensor will operate in two main modes: Interferometric Wide Swath and Wave. The first has a swath width of 250 km and a ground resolution of 5×20 m. These two modes will satisfy most of the envisaged service requirements. Two other mutually exclusive modes are provided for continuity with other SAR missions and to accommodate emerging user requirements.
Sentinel-1's revisit time, geographical coverage and rapid data dissemination are key to providing essential data for Copernicus. The Sentinel-1 pair is expected to provide coverage over Europe, Canada and main shipping routes in 1–3 days, regardless of weather conditions. Radar data will be delivered within an hour of acquisition – a big improvement over existing SAR systems.
The mission will benefit numerous services. For example, services that relate to the monitoring of Arctic sea-ice extent, routine sea-ice mapping, surveillance of the marine environment, including oil-spill monitoring and ship detection for maritime security, monitoring land-surface for motion risks, mapping for forest, water and soil management and mapping to support humanitarian aid and crisis situations.
The design of the Sentinel-1 mission with its focus on reliability, operational stability, global coverage, consistent operations and quick data delivery is expected to enable the development of new applications and meet the evolving needs of Copernicus.
Sentinel-1 is being realised by an industrial consortium led by Thales Alenia Space Italy as Prime Contractor, with Astrium Germany responsible for the C-SAR payload incorporating the central radar electronics subsystem developed by Astrium UK.
Sentinel-1 will be launched on a Soyuz rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.
The first satellite dedicated to Europe’s ambitious Copernicus environmental monitoring programme will be launched on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana.
Sentinel-1 carries an advanced radar instrument to image Earth’s surface through cloud and rain, regardless of whether it is day or night. Delivering vital information for numerous operational services, from monitoring ice in the polar oceans to tracking land subsidence, Sentinel-1 is set to play a key role in the largest civil Earth-observation programme ever conceived.
Sentinel-1A arrives in Kourou
The Sentinel-1A radar satellite has arrived at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to be prepared over the coming weeks for launch on 3 April
Credits: ESA–M. Shafiq
Payload preparations begin for Arianespace’s upcoming Soyuz mission with Sentinel-1A
The photo sequence above shows Sentinel-1A being raised to its vertical position for processing inside the S1A payload preparation facility.
Soyuz Flight VS07
The first spacecraft for Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation program – Sentinel-1A – is now undergoing pre-launch checkout at the Spaceport, readying it for an April 3 liftoff on Arianespace’s next Soyuz flight from French Guiana.
Sentinel-1A is being put through its paces inside the Spaceport’s S1A payload preparation facility, where the radar satellite was transported following this week’s arrival in French Guiana aboard an An-124 cargo jetliner.
During the initial preparations, Sentinel-1A was removed from its shipping container in clean room conditions, then raised to a vertical position for the start-up of processing.
Sentinel-1A is to deliver essential data for Copernicus, a European Space Agency (ESA) program in partnership with the European Commission – which will create a sustainable European satellite network to collect and evaluate environmental data for civil safety and humanitarian purposes.
Specifically, Sentinel-1A was designed and built by Thales Alenia Space for environmental tasks that include maritime surveillance and monitoring of sea ice, oil spills, landslides and floods. These tasks will assist in reconnaissance and operational support activities in response to natural disasters, for which the latest data is required as rapidly as possible.
The Sentinel-1B “sister” satellite will be launched a few years after Sentinel-1A, to improve revisit intervals and allow the entire planet’s mapping in only six days. Both spacecraft are based on the Prima platform developed by Thales Alenia Space on behalf of the Italian space agency, and carry a C-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) radar instrument developed by Airbus Defence and Space that allows Earth imaging through cloud and rain, in day or night conditions.
Sentinel programs being developed by ESA within the scope of Copernicus include five satellite families: Sentinel-1, designed to ensure the continuity of ERS and Envisat radar data; Sentinel-2 and -3, dedicated to Earth and ocean monitoring; and Sentinel-4 and -5, for meteorology and climatology, with a focus on studying the Earth atmosphere's composition.
This upcoming launch will mark Arianespace’s seventh Soyuz mission from Europe’s Spaceport since the medium-lift vehicle’s 2011 introduction, as well as the company’s second overall flight conducted from the equatorial launch site in 2014 – following the February 6 Ariane 5 success with ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus.
In the final weeks leading to the Sentinel-1A launch, set for 3 April 2014, the mission control teams at ESA’s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany have been training intensively.
The simulation sessions – often running through a full 12-hour shift – are conducted ‘on console’ in the Main Control Room, and pace the teams through every step of the satellite’s launch and entry into orbit.
Trainers inject a carefully staged series of faults, errors and failures into the satellite or into the software and systems used to fly it. Meanwhile, the mission controllers sitting on console must recognise and assess the problem and apply the correct contingency procedure.
In this image, Juan Vizcaya, one of two Sentinel-1A Ground Operation Managers, watches intently for any problems with the ground tracking stations or network systems used to communicate with Sentinel.
The Sentinel-1A satellite is now fuelled. This rather hazardous operation cannot be rushed and took a week to complete. The next step is to fix the satellite to the Fregat upper stage of the Soyuz launcher and encapsulate in the rocket fairing. Launch from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana is set for 3 April at 21:02 GMT (23:02 CEST).
Fuelling a satellite is particularly dangerous, so the team has to wear ‘scape suits’ for protection. Marking a milestone in the campaign to prepare Sentinel-1A for launch, fuelling and pressurisation in now complete.
As preparations for the launch of the first satellite for Copernicus continue on track, the team at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana has said farewell to Sentinel-1A as it was sealed from view within the rocket fairing. Liftoff is set for 21:02 GMT (23:02 CEST) on Thursday.
Marking another milestone on the road to launch, the Soyuz rocket has been rolled out and raised on the launch pad.
Thursday’s launch will also mark a new era in Earth observation for operational applications. As meteorological satellites provide routine observations for weather forecasting, the Sentinel missions will feed environmental services through Europe’s Copernicus programme.
This first Sentinel satellite carries an advanced radar to scan Earth’s surface in all weather conditions and regardless of whether it is day or night.
It will be used to care for many aspects of our environment, from detecting and tracking oil spills and mapping sea ice to monitoring movement in land surfaces and mapping changes in the way land is used.
It will also play a crucial role in providing timely information to help respond to natural disasters and help humanitarian efforts.
Update: 21.35 MESZ
Arianespace’s Soyuz mission with Sentinel-1A is given the “go” for liftoff tomorrow
The next Arianespace Soyuz launch from French Guiana has been authorized for liftoff tomorrow on a mission that will supply essential data for Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation program.
This “go” approval was given today after the regular pre-launch review for Arianespace flights – which confirmed the readiness of Soyuz and its Sentinel-1A satellite passenger, the launch site and associated infrastructure at the Spaceport, along with the network of downrange tracking stations.
The April 3 mission is designated VS07 in Arianespace’s flight numbering system, and will be performed from the purpose-built ZLS launch facility for Soyuz, located in the Spaceport’s northwestern sector.
Tomorrow’s Soyuz liftoff is set for a precise moment – 6:02:26 p.m. local time in French Guiana – initiating a 23-minute mission to deploy Sentinel-1A into a Sun-synchronous orbit. The satellite has a liftoff mass estimated at 2,157 kg. and a nominal design life of 7.25 years.
Copernicus is a program of the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency, and is designed to give Europe complete independence in the acquisition and management of data for Earth environmental, civil safety and humanitarian purposes.
Prime contractor Thales Alenia Space led the industrial consortium in which Sentinel-1A was developed, with the spacecraft’s C-SAR synthetic aperture radar payload produced by Airbus Defence and Space.
The flight tomorrow will be Arianespace’s third so far in 2014, as well as its seventh Soyuz mission performed from French Guiana since the workhorse Russian-built vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the equatorial launch site.