March 7, 2017

Vega successfully orbits Sentinel-2B on ninth flight from Guiana Space Centre - CNES’s four centres in the spotlight

Monday 6 March, Vega accomplished a flawless launch from Europe’s spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), orbiting Sentinel-2B, the fifth satellite of the Copernicus constellation. The launch, conducted on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) to serve the European Union (EU) and its citizens, was the third this year from the CSG and Vega’s ninth flight since 2012.

Sentinel-2 is a joint ESA-EU programme designed as a constellation of two identical satellites. Sentinel-2A, launched in June 2015, and Sentinel-2B will deliver high-resolution optical imagery to extend the data record built up by the SPOT and Landsat satellites. As it did previously for Sentinel-2A, CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre will be carrying out the delicate task of calibrating and fine-tuning Sentinel-2B’s instrument for ESA under its longstanding partnership with the agency.

Since being launched, Sentinel-2A has been providing global coverage of Earth’s land surfaces every 10 days. This repeat coverage cycle will now be reduced to five days operating in tandem with Sentinel-2B. Thanks to their Multi Spectral Instrument (MSI), the two satellites will combine 10-metre resolution with a wide imaging swath. The Earth- and ocean-observing Sentinel-2 constellation is designed chiefly for global monitoring of land surfaces and shorelines. Sentinel-2 data will serve applications monitoring vegetation, soils and habitats, in particular for agriculture.

Sentinel-2B is the fifth satellite of the ambitious Copernicus Earth-observation programme. With a launch mass of 1.1 tonnes and a mission lifetime of 7 years, it was built by prime contractor Airbus Defence & Space on behalf of ESA to serve the European Union and its citizens.

After the launch, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “I would like to congratulate all of the teams to whom we owe this latest success for Vega, at ESA, ASI, Avio, Arianespace, across the European space industry and of course at CNES, whose four field centres were once again instrumental in accomplishing this launch—Head Office, which is managing France’s contribution to Copernicus, the Launch Vehicles Directorate (DLA), which played a key role developing Vega, the Guiana Space Centre where the satellite was launched, and the Toulouse Space Centre that will now be calibrating Sentinel-2B’s instrument. Well done everyone!”

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