Kourou, French Guiana, 7-4-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — On Thursday, April 3, 2014, at 6:02 pm local time in French Guiana, Arianespace successfully carried out the seventh Soyuz mission from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), orbiting the Sentinel-1A satellite for the European Commission within the scope of a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Launched as part of the European Commission’s Copernicus program, the Sentinel-1A satellite will play a decisive role in meeting Europe’s environmental monitoring and security requirements. In particular, it will contribute to observation of the terrestrial and maritime environments, while supporting crisis management in case of natural disasters.
The Copernicus program, formerly known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), covers a vast spectrum of missions, to better control and protect our environment, enhance our understanding of the underlying phenomena in climate change, and improve security for European citizens.
Arianespace and Earth Observation
Right from the outset, Arianespace has supported major governmental Earth observation missions, enabling us to better understand our environment.
Sentinel-1A, for example, is the 50th satellite with an Earth observation payload to be launched by Arianespace. It will give Europe continuous, independent and reliable access to radar imaging data. Operating under all weather conditions, night or day, it will be the first radar satellite capable of delivering images less than an hour after they are acquired.
Arianespace currently has nine more Earth observation missions in its order book including five export contracts signed in 2013 and 2014. Sentinel-1A is the fifth radar imaging satellite launched by the company, after ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat and Radarsat 2.
Arianespace and the European Union
The launch of Sentinel-1A reflects Arianespace’s role in implementing the European Union’s space policy, through the emblematic programs Copernicus and Galileo. With two other Sentinel satellites to be launched by Vega and 14 Galileo satellites to be launched by Ariane 5 and Soyuz, Arianespace’s entire family of launchers is working for the European Commission, starting in 2014 and continuing the following years.
After the announcement of this successful mission, Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël said: “We are very proud to once again help the European Union meet its ambitious space objectives. For us, it’s a great honor to be able to contribute to these programs designed to protect our planet, and to lay the keystone for Copernicus, supporting the sustainable development policy promoted by the European Union. I would like to thank the European Commission for placing their trust in us. And I would also like to thank the European Space Agency, which is in charge of the Copernicus space segment; Arianespace is one of ESA’s key partners. Congratulations to Thales Alenia Space, prime contractor for this exceptional satellite, and to Airbus Defence and Space, which provided the radar payload. Thanks to our three launchers operating from the Guiana Space Center, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, we guarantee independent access to space for Europe.”
Arianespace and the “Soyuz in Guiana” program
Today’s launch of Sentinel-1A also marks the latest success of the “Soyuz in Guiana” program. The emblematic collaboration on space programs between France, Europe and Russia was instrumental in orbiting four Galileo satellites in 2011 and 2012. The collaboration gives Europe a medium launcher that fits perfectly with its own Ariane 5 and Vega launchers. Arianespace and the Russian space agency Roscosmos have signed a contract for the procurement of seven new Soyuz rockets Guiana Space Center, bringing to 16 the number of Soyuzes to be launched from the Spaceport. This contract will enable Arianespace to meet its government and commercial customers’ requirements through 2019.
The Soyuz ST-A/Sentinel-1A launch at a glance
The Soyuz ST-A launcher lifted off from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana at 6:02:26 pm local time on Thursday, April 3, 2014 (5:02:26 pm in Washington, D.C., 21:02:26 UTC, 11:02:26 pm in Paris, and on Friday, April 4, 2014 at 1:02:26 am in Moscow).
Sentinel-1A is a C-band SAR (synthetic aperture radar) type satellite, that will operate for at least seven years in a Sun-synchronous circular orbit at an altitude of about 690 km. Sentinel-1A will enable Europe to meet future environmental management requirements.
It is the first satellite in the Sentinel-1 family (radar imaging) and the cornerstone in the Copernicus program. The data from this satellite will be used by five of the six services offered through this program.
Sentinel-1A, built by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, will ensure the continuity of radar measurements made by the ERS and Envisat satellites, and will provide images 24 hours a day, under all weather conditions, delivering some of these images within an hour. It is fitted with a radar built by Airbus Defence and Space and a GNSS receiver, used to meet operating requirements and for precision orbit-determination from the ground.