Flight VS14 – Arianespace’s first Soyuz launch in 2016: supporting European space applications
On its third launch of the year, which will be the initial mission in 2016 utilizing a Soyuz launcher from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, Arianespace will orbit the Sentinel-1B satellite for the Copernicus program, on behalf of the European Commission and within the framework of a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Also to be orbited on the mission are the French CNES space agency’s Microscope satellite, and three CubeSats for the ESA Education and Knowledge Management Office’s Fly Your Satellite! program.
As demonstrated by this flight, Arianespace continues to address Europe’s need for reliable and independent access to space.
The liftoff will be from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) in Sinnamary, French Guiana (South America).
The launcher will be carrying a total payload of 3,099 kg.
The Launch Readiness Review (LRR) will take place on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in Kourou, to authorize the start of operations for the final countdown.
Sentinel-1B, the second satellite in the Sentinel-1 family of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) observation satellites, is an SAR type C-band observation satellite. It is part of a vast joint research program by ESA and the European Union called Copernicus. Sentinal-1B is identical to Sentinel-1A, successfully launched on April 3, 2014 by a Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Center.
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.
Thales Alenia Space (TAS) is the prime contractor for Sentinel-1B, responsible for design, development and integration.
Built on the Prima (Piattaforma Italiana Multi-Applicativa) platform developed by Thales Alenia Space Italy for the Italian Space agency, ASI, the satellite is fitted with a radar from Airbus Defence and Space.
The Microscope satellite (Micro-Satellite à traînée Compensée pour l’Observation du Principe d’Equivalence) will test the equivalence principle described by Albert Einstein, with a precision on the order of 10-15. In space, it is possible to study the relative motion of two bodies in almost perfect and permanent free fall aboard an orbiting satellite, shielded from perturbations encountered on Earth (notably seismic).
The scientific experiment will be flown on a microsatellite built around CNES’s Myriade bus. CNES is providing 90% of funding for this mission, for which it is also prime contractor in charge of satellite bus development, satellite integration and testing up to launch, along with construction and operation of the mission control center.
Numerous other entities are involved in this project: Germany’s DLR aerospace center and the ZARM center of applied space technology and microgravity; and France’s ONERA national aerospace research center, the Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers (INSU), and Côte d’Azur Observatory (OCA).
Fly Your Satellite! (set of three CubSats) is an ESA Education and Knowledge Management Office’s program operated in close collaboration with European universities, which is focused on complementing academic education.
Through Fly Your Satellite! and other educational projects, ESA acts to inspire, engage and better prepare students to undertake scientific and technological careers, in the space sector in particular. Fly Your Satellite! is part of the newly established ESA Education and Knowledge Management Office’s program.
As part of the Fly Your Satellite Program, three university teams were chosen for miniaturized CubeSat satellites to be orbited by Flight VS14: the University of Liege, Belgium; Italy’s Politecnico di Torino; and the University of Aalborg, Denmark.
To watch a live, high-speed online transmission of the launch (including commentary from the launch site in French and English), go to arianespace.com on April 22, 2016, starting 20 minutes before liftoff.
You can also follow the launch live on your iPhone or iPad (the Arianespace HD app is free).
To use space for a better life on earth, Arianespace guarantees access to space transportation services and solutions for any type of satellite, commercial as well as institutional, into any orbit.
Since 1980, Arianespace has performed missions placing more than 500 satellites into orbit with its three launchers: Ariane, Soyuz and Vega. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, France near Paris, and has a facility at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore.