Flight VS14 – A successful Arianespace launch with Soyuz, supporting sustainable development, fundamental physics and promoting space careers
Arianespace successfully launched the Sentinel-1B satellite for the Copernicus program on behalf of the European Commission, under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA). It also orbited on this mission, the French CNES space agency’s Microscope satellite, and three CubeSats for the ESA Education and Knowledge Management Office’s Fly Your Satellite! program. The Soyuz launcher lifted off on April 25, 2016 at 6:02 pm (local time) from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana.
Arianespace’s third launch of the year was dedicated to European space initiatives for sustainable development, fundamental physics and promoting science and space careers among young Europeans. It clearly confirmed Arianespace’s commitment to its primary mission, namely guaranteeing reliable and independent access to space for Europe.
Boosting sustainable development
With the launch of Sentinel-1B, Arianespace continues to deploy the space segment of Copernicus, a program on behalf of the European Commission, under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is designed to provide extensive information on the Earth’s land masses, oceans and atmosphere. This data plays a critical role in determining environmental and security policies, as well as addressing the needs of both consumers and service providers.
Sentinel-1B is a C-band radar observation satellite, using an SAR (synthetic aperture radar) type sensor. It is identical to the Sentinel-1A satellite, successfully launched on April 3, 2014 from the Guiana Space Center, also by a Soyuz rocket.
* Sentinel-1B is the 51st satellite to be launched by Arianespace for ESA, and the third for the Copernicus program (after Sentinel-1A in April 2014 and Sentinel-2A in June 2015).
* 18 more ESA satellites are scheduled for launch by Arianespace, including Sentinel-3B on Vega.
* Earth observation missions account for 9% of the Arianespace missions carried out to date.
Sentinel-1B will round out the initial capacity offered by Sentinel-1A to provide a comprehensive solution for radar surveillance of the environment and for security issues. Together, the two satellites will provide coverage of the Earth in less than six days, day or night and under all weather conditions.
Supporting science and education
The micro-satellite Microscope (Micro-Satellite à traînée Compensée pour l’Observation du Principe d’Equivalence) is designed to provide experimental verification, to an accuracy of better than 10-15, of the equivalency principle for inertial and gravitational mass as stated by Albert Einstein. If it shows any violation of this basic principle, that would be an earth shattering development in fundamental physics.
Through another payload on this flight, Fly Your Satellite!, Arianespace is contributing to ESA’s educational program (via its Education and Knowledge Management bureau).
* Microscope is the 15th satellite launched by Arianespace for French space agency CNES. * CNES is funding 90% of this mission, and acts as prime contractor.
* Arianespace’s current launch manifest includes one more CNES satellite, Taranis.
* Science missions account for 9% of the Arianespace missions carried out to date.
Conducted in conjunction with European universities, the Fly Your Satellite! program enables students to add hands-on scientific experience to their classwork. It is designed to foster their interest in these activities, stimulate them and help them prepare for a career in science and technology, especially in the space sector.
This Arianespace mission orbited three CubeSats built by students from Belgium, Italy and Denmark, to test new technologies. They are the 52nd, 53rd and 54th satellites launched by Arianespace for ESA.
* OUTFI-1 from the University of Liège in Belgium is a demonstrator for the D-STAR communications protocol.
* e-st@r-II from the Polytechnic institute in Turin, Italy, is a demonstrator for a 3-axis attitude control system, using the Earth’s magnetic field,
* AAUSAT-4 from the University of Aalborg, Denmark, is a demonstrator for the reception of signals from an Automatic Identification System (AIS), designed to identify and locate ships sailing offshore in coastal regions.
Shortly after the announcement of the completion of this mission, Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said: “This evening’s successful launch makes us very happy and very proud to contribute to European missions in support of sustainable development, fundamental physics and fostering European students’ vocation for science and space. I would like to thank the European Commission, our leading government customer, for its ongoing confidence via the launch of satellites for Copernicus and Galileo, the European Space Agency, as our direct customer on the launch, for their constant support, and CNES, for enabling us to participate in the amazing experiments being carried out by Microscope. I would also like to thank the Russian space agency Roscosmos for their commitment to our partnership based on the Soyuz launcher, which more than ever reaffirms its dual vocation for commercial and government missions. And bravo to the Arianespace team for this third successful launch of 2016.”
Sentinel-1B is based on the Prima (Piattaforma Italiana Multi-Applicativa) platform developed by Thales Alenia Space Italy pour for the Italian Space Agency ASI. It is fitted with a C-Band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) built by Airbus Defence and Space. Sentinel-1B weighed 2,164 kg. at liftoff and offers a design life of about seven years. It will provide 5,984 watts of electrical power at end-of-life, and will be positioned in Sun-synchronous orbit at an inclination of 98.2° and at an altitude of approximately 686 km.
Microscope (MICROSatellite à trainée Compensée pour l‘Observation du Principe d‘Equivalence) was built by CNES with help from ESA and other partners (CNRS-DLR-ONERA-INSU-OCA-ZARM). It weighed 303 kg. at liftoff, and will offer a minimum service life of two years, with a possible one-year extension. At end-of-life, it will provide 192 W of electrical power. It will also be positioned in Sun-synchronous orbit, with an inclination of 98.2° and at an altitude of about 711 km.
Fly Your Satellite ! Each of the three participating universities built one CubeSat in this program: AAUSAT-4, built by the University of Aalborg in Denmark; e-st@r-II, built by Politecnico di Torino (Italy); and OUTFI-1 built by the University of Liège in Belgium. The complete payload weighed 6 kg. at launch (3 kg. for the three CubeSats + 3 kg.for the P-POD payload adapter). Each CubeSat will offer a service life of about one year. All three will be positioned in low Earth orbit (LEO), at an inclination of 98.2°, with a perigee and apogee of 453 km and 665 km, respectively.
Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited more than 500 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore.