Arianespace orbits second satellite in Copernicus system, Sentinel-2A, on fifth Vega launch
Arianespace orbited the Sentinel-2A satellite on its fifth launch of the year, also the fifth launch overall by Vega, the latest member of its launcher family.
Sentinel-2A is the second satellite from the European Commission’s Copernicus program to be launched by Arianespace, under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA). Sentinel-2A lifted off on June 22 at 10:51:58 pm local time from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in Kourou, French Guiana.
Arianespace supports sustainable development
Sentinel-2A is the second satellite from the Copernicus program to be launched by Arianespace for the European Commission, under a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA). Built by Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor, this optical Earth observation satellite is mainly designed to monitor land masses and coastal areas across the planet.
Copernicus is the European Commission’s second space program, following Galileo. It aims to give Europe continuous, independent and reliable access to Earth observation data. The Copernicus program spans a wide range of missions and services, allowing us to better control and protect our environment, and better understand the phenomena underlying climate change, while also improving the safety and security of European citizens.
Over and above the Copernicus program, for the last 35 years Arianespace has supported sustainable development by launching satellites dedicated to environmental protection and monitoring, meteorology and navigation. Sentinel-2A joins the 45 satellites already launched by Arianespace for these applications over the last three decades.
Guaranteeing access to space for Europe
With this launch for the European Commission and ESA, Arianespace continues to fulfill its mission of guaranteeing independent access to space for Europe. Arianespace also continues to carry out its 2015 launch manifest, featuring a number of government missions calling on the company’s entire range of launchers to handle four distinct applications:
Technological development with the IXV (launched by Vega on February 11) and scientific exploration with Lisa Pathfinder (to be launched by Vega in the second half of the year).
Navigation: three Galileo missions (Soyuz – March 27, then in September and December).
Secure communications: Sicral-2 (Ariane 5 – April 26).
Environmental protection and meteorology: Sentinel-2A (Vega – June 22) and MSG-4 (Ariane 5 – scheduled July 8).
Vega: successful ramp-up and confirmed business success
Today’s Sentinel-2A launch marks the fifth Vega mission – all successful. It also marks the beginning of a ramp-up in operations, in line with its order book and to meet the target of three launches in 2015. Following the IXV launch in February, and the Sentinel-2A launch today, the Lisa Pathfinder satellite will be orbited by a Vega rocket by the end of 2015.
This operational success goes hand in hand with the launcher’s breakthrough in recent months in the Earth observation market. Vega has won new export contracts, which now account for more than 70% of its order book value. Arianespace has signed three new launch contracts since the beginning of the year, including one for two Falcon Eye satellites for the United Arab Emirates, along with the Perusat-1 satellite for the Peruvian government, and a group of Skybox satellites for Google/Skybox Imaging.
Arianespace’s purchase of a batch of ten Vega launchers in October 2014 from the ELV consortium, comprising the manufacturer Avio and the Italian space agency ASI, reflects the market’s confidence in this launcher, which joined the Arianespace family in 2012.
Following the announcement of mission success, Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël said: “In the run-up to the COP21 climate change conference, to be held in Paris at the end of the year, Arianespace is very proud of our contribution to Europe’s actions in support of sustainable development, by deploying satellites in the Copernicus system. After the launch of Sentinel-1A by a Soyuz rocket in April 2014, we have now used a Vega rocket to boost Sentinel-2A into orbit. I would like to thank all of our partners who contributed to this latest success: our customers, of course, plus the European Commission and the European Space Agency for their ongoing confidence. I would also like to extend my thanks to ELV, our prime contractor on Vega, and its shareholders, Avio and the Italian space agency, for the quality of this launcher which continues to prove its best-in-class performance, day after day, and to Airbus Defence and Space, for the technological excellence of Sentinel-2A. My thanks for this fifth successful launch of the year also go to all teams in French Guiana, including our own people, of course, and also our partner CNES-CSG and our contractors on the ground.”