For its 14th flight from the CSG, the Soyuz launcher successfully orbited three satellites.
CNES’s Microscope science satellite (MICROSatellite à trainée Compensée pour l’Observation du Principe d’Équivalence) is designed to test for the first time in space the validity of the founding principle of the theory of general relativity developed by Albert Einstein between 1907 and 1915, in which he assumed the equivalence of a gravitational field and a corresponding acceleration of the reference system. The challenge for Microscope will be to achieve a level of precision 100 times better than any experiment yet performed on Earth, thus opening new vistas for theories of gravitation. Microscope will test the principle in the vacuum of space where free fall is a lot less perturbed and lasts a lot longer. It will thus be able to study the relative motion of two test masses on the satellite in permanent free fall over the course of several months.
The Sentinel-1B synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite will add to the capability already being provided by its twin Sentinel-1A for ESA and the European Union’s Copernicus programme. Operating in tandem, the two satellites will cover a full range of environmental monitoring and security requirements.
Fly Your Satellite! is an outreach programme led by ESA that offers European students the opportunity to acquire hands-on experience with cubesats. This ambitious project includes OUTFl-1 from Liege University in Belgium, E-st@ar-II from the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy and AAUSAT4 from the University of Aaborg in Denmark.
After the launch, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “It is very satisfying to be here to see this first successful launch of the year for Soyuz from the CSG, continuing our partnership with Russia in this 50th anniversary year of our cooperation in space; with the environment and climate community on the day of the signature in New York of the climate agreement reached at the COP 21; with the younger generations learning all about space technologies; and of course with the scientific community working on our Microscope project. I would therefore like to warmly congratulate all of our partner teams at the European Commission, ESA, Arianespace, Starsem, European and Russian manufacturers and of course at CNES. This success marks a major milestone, particularly with the much-awaited results from Microscope and Sentinel-1B. I am also delighted to see that the range of Europe’s launchers operated from the CSG is giving European students the chance to learn more about space technologies.”
See the launch on https://microscope.cnes.fr/