Payload preparations advance for Arianespace’s Soyuz mission with Sentinel-1B
The next spacecraft to be orbited for Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation program – Sentinel-1B – is now undergoing pre-launch checkout at the Spaceport, readying it for the April 22 liftoff on Arianespace’s upcoming Soyuz flight from French Guiana.
Preparation activity is underway with Soyuz Flight VS14’s Sentinel-1B passenger at the Spaceport’s S5 facility in French Guiana.
Sentinel-1B is being put through its paces inside the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation facility, where the radar satellite was transported following this month’s arrival in French Guiana aboard an An-124 cargo jetliner. During initial preparations, the spacecraft was removed from its shipping container in clean room conditions, then positioned for the start-up of processing.
Developed in an industrial consortium led by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, Sentinel-1B is to deliver essential data for Copernicus – which is a European Space Agency (ESA) program in partnership with the European Commission. Copernicus’ goal is to ensure European independence in the acquisition and management of environmental data concerning the planet, as well as to support local authorities and policy-makers.
After launch, Sentinel-1B will join its Sentinel-1A “sister” satellite in Sun-synchronous, near-polar, circular orbit. Both spacecraft carry an advanced radar for all-weather, day-and-night coverage of Earth’s surface, and working together, will image the entire planet every six days. Sentinel-1A was launched on a 2014 Arianespace Soyuz mission.
The April 22 flight is designated VS14 in Arianespace’s numbering system, and will be the company’s third mission performed from Europe’s Spaceport in 2016 to date – following successful Ariane 5 launches on January 27 (carrying Intelsat 29e) and March 9 (with EUTELSAT 65 West A).
Three additional passengers are to be lofted along with Sentinel-1B on Soyuz Flight VS14: the CNES French space agency’s Microscope spacecraft; the first scientific satellite for Norway, NORSAT-1; and a cubesat payload that will be orbited as part of ESA’s Fly Your Satellite! educational program.