Launcher build-up is complete for Arianespace’s Vega mission with Sentinel-2B on March 6
The ninth Vega light-lift launcher is now complete at the Spaceport, with its Sentinel-2B Earth observation satellite installed atop the four-stage vehicle in preparation for a March 6 mission from French Guiana.
Encapsulated in the bulb-shaped protective payload fairing, Sentinel-2B was integrated on Vega during activity at the Spaceport’s ZLV launch site. With this step complete, the preparations for Arianespace’s upcoming mission – designated Flight VV09 in the company’s launcher family numbering system – are entering their final phase.
Vega underwent its build-up on the launch pad, involving a stacking of the vehicle’s three solid propellant stages and liquid bi-propellant upper stage, then “topped off” by Sentinel-2B in its payload fairing. The activity was performed with Vega protected by a 50-meter tall gantry, which will be rolled back during the final countdown at 3 hours, 15 minutes prior to liftoff.
Vega’s latest mission at the service of Earth observation
Flight VV09 will be Vega’s ninth mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana since the February 2012 startup of operations with this launcher, as well as its sixth at the service of Earth observation payloads.
Vega was evolved in a European Space Agency-sponsored program as Europe’s light-lift launcher, and is supplied to Arianespace by the ELV subsidiary of Italy’s Avio Group and the Italian Space Agency.
During Flight VV09’s trajectory, Vega’s three solid propellant stages will operate in sequence during the mission’s initial six minutes, followed by two ignitions of the AVUM liquid bi-propellant upper stage – separated by a ballistic phase lasting approximately 40 minutes.
A mission to Sun-synchronous orbit with Sentinel-2B
Sentinel-2B has a liftoff mass of 1,130 kg. and will be deployed into Sun-synchronous orbit during a nighttime mission lasting just under 58 minutes. After its deployment by Vega, Sentinel-2B is to operate at an altitude of approximately 786 km., with a design lifetime of seven-plus years.
Prior to its integration on Vega, Sentinel-2B underwent a deployment test of its solar panel, which was performed in the Spaceport’s S3B clean room facility.
The spacecraft was built by a consortium of companies led by Airbus in designing the mission and building the spacecraft, supported by the French CNES space agency and the DLR German Aerospace Center. Its development results from a close collaboration involving the European Space Agency, the European Commission, service providers and data users.
Sentinel-2B will be the fourth satellite in the Copernicus program to be orbited by Arianespace from the Spaceport in French Guiana, complementing the successful launch of Sentinel-1A on a Soyuz in April 2014, Sentinel-2A aboard a Vega in June 2015 and Sentinel-1B by a Soyuz in April 2016.
Equipped with a multispectral, wide-swath, high-resolution optical imaging instrument, Sentinel-2B is to focus primarily on the monitoring of land masses and coastal zones around the world. Its data will be used for applications involving the monitoring of vegetation, soil types and habitats.
Flight VV09: Arianespace third mission in 2017
The March 6 mission with Sentinel-2B continues Arianespace’s sustained launch cadence in 2017, with a total of 12 flights targeted during the year from French Guiana using its launcher family composed of the light-lift Vega, medium-lift Soyuz and heavy-weight Ariane 5.
Flight VV09 will be the third Arianespace liftoff in 2017, following the February 14 launch of an Ariane 5 with the SKY Brasil-1 and Telkom 3S relay satellites for Brazil and Indonesia; and the January 27 flight utilizing a medium-lift Soyuz to orbit Europe’s first “SmallGEO” relay platform, Hispasat 36W-1.
Larger versions of the photos above are available for downloading in the Gallery.
More details on Vega Flight VV09 are available in the launch kit: