July 14, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

Sentinel-2C ready for transatlantic journey to Vega farewell launch

TAMPA, Fla. — Sentinel-2C is set to be shipped from Germany for a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, where Europe’s last Earth science satellite will be launched on the final flight of the original version of the Vega rocket.

Manufacturer Airbus said on July 3 it had loaded the satellite onto Canopée, a sail-assisted cargo ship designed specifically to carry components for Europe's Ariane 6 rocket.

Like its Airbus-built predecessors, Sentinel-2A and -2B (launched in 2015 and 2017 respectively), Sentinel-2C's payload is designed to generate optical imagery from the visible to the shortwave infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Each Sentinel-2 satellite collects 1.5 terabytes of data per day after onboard compression, supporting applications ranging from land use tracking to environmental monitoring.

Airbus said the 1,100-kilogram Sentinel-2C spacecraft would provide continuous imagery in 13 spectral bands from an altitude of 786 kilometres above Earth. With a bandwidth of 290 kilometres, the company said the payload would provide images with resolutions of 10, 20 or 60 metres.

Sentinel-2C would ultimately replace Sentinel-2A, which is identical to Sentinel-2B. Airbus is also under contract to provide the Sentinel-2D satellite which will replace Sentinel-2B and ensure data continuity beyond 2035.

The satellites are part of Copernicus, the Earth observation component of the European Union's space programme that uses a variety of in-orbit technologies.

Earth observation missions developed by the European Space Agency within the framework of Copernicus. Credit: ESA

“About half of the data used to assess and monitor the impact of climate change on Earth is delivered by satellites,” Marc Steckling, Airbus’ director of Earth observation, science and exploration, said in a statement.

“The Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites have been providing valuable climate information to scientists since 2015 and Sentinel-2C will ensure this continues. They have also made it possible to monitor marine debris from space – a significant achievement considering the severity of this problem.”

Arianespace's next-generation Vega C medium-lift rocket successfully launched a handful of satellites on its maiden flight in July 2022.

However, the rocket failed to reach orbit during its second mission five months later (destroying two Airbus Pléiades Neo imaging satellites in the process) and has remained grounded ever since.

The European Space Agency said in May that it is Getting ready for the return of Vega C to enter service before the end of 2024.

The final flight of the original version of the Vega rocket was also due to launch earlier this year before crashing into… A problem with your upper stage.

Following its own series of setbacks, the first flight of Arianespace's Ariane 6 heavy-lift rocket, the successor to Ariane 5, It is expected to take place on July 9. from French Guiana.

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