Miscellaneous Launches and Payloads (updates)


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Arianespace prepares for ownership and operational overhaul



KOUROU, French Guiana – Europe’s Arianespace commercial launch company, which for 35 years has had a stable relationship to its industrial shareholders and government backers, is preparing for a major change in direction this fall as it becomes a 74-percent-owned subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers.


It remains unclear what changes will be made to the company. ASL officials have said they would keep the Arianespace brand name and allow it to continue to operate as a separate entity, with its own headquarters and branch offices.


But the pressure to reduce costs that is forcing an overhaul of Europe’s entire rocket industry will almost certainly affect Arianespace and its 313 employees. The key development is the coming of the new-generation Ariane 6 rocket, to replace Ariane 5 starting in 2020; and the Vega-C, an upgrade of the current Vega small-satellite launcher.


In a Jan. 28 interview here at Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport, Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel outlined the milestones that, within a year, should result in an Arianespace version 2.0.


It starts with the European Commission’s approval of ASL’s purchase, for 150 million euros ($162 million), of the French government’s 35 percent Arianespace stake. That is expected to occur by March.


Next up is the negotiation between the European Space Agency (ESA) and ASL on final pricing for the Ariane 6 rocket, to fly starting in 2020. Once that Program Implementation Review is completed in September, Arianespace will begin marketing the Ariane 6 and the Vega-C rockets.


In addition, the company expects to conclude a memorandum of understanding with ESA, ASL, Vega prime contractor Avio and the French space agency, CNES, on how their relations will evolve as Ariane 6 and Vega-C are introduced.


“The evolution of our shareholder structure and the preparing the exploitation of Ariane 6 and Vega-C are going on in parallel with the competitiveness plan we’re implementing before the arrival of the new vehicles,” Israel said.


Israel has said the company wants to shave some 5 percent from the current cost of the Ariane 5 rocket to be able to pass the savings on to customers and better compete with SpaceX of the United States. The company has already dropped prices for lighter-weight satellites sitting in Ariane 5’s lower berth, where the competition with SpaceX has been the sharpest.


Israel said Arianespace expects to sign with ASL a final Ariane 5 batch order contract by the end of this year, an order large enough to supply customers through sometime in 2023 – three years after the first Ariane 6 — at which point Ariane 5 will be retired.


Arianespace will also sign, with Avio of Italy, a contract for Vega and Vega-C rockets late this year following the ESA review, he said.


Commercial satellite operators will be given the choice between Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 for launches between 2020 and 2023.


“I imagine that the price of the launchers will not be the same, but neither will their levels of maturity,” Israel said, noting that Ariane 6 is designed to be 40-50% less costly than Ariane 5.

more at the link...



One minute, talk about reusability and Ariane 6 design, is on the table, next minute, this......

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Feb. 5Atlas 5 • GPS 2F-12
Launch window: 1338-1357 GMT (8:38-8:57 a.m. EST)
Launch site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-057, will launch the U.S. Air Force’s 12th Block 2F navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System. The rocket will fly in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. Delayed from Jan. 26. [Jan. 28]



United Launch Alliance’s high-tempo year begins with GPS launch Friday



File photo of the Atlas 5. Credit: James Murati / Bionetics



CAPE CANAVERAL — Kicking off United Launch Alliance’s ambitious 2016 with as many as 15 launches planned for the U.S. military, intelligence community, NASA and commercial clients, an Atlas 5 rocket will thunder to orbit Friday to deploy the last satellite in the current generation of Global Positioning System navigation spacecraft.


The GPS 2F-12 satellite will ride to space from Cape Canaveral, departing Complex 41 on 860,000 pounds of thrust during a launch window of 8:38 to 8:57 a.m. EST (1338-1357 GMT).


The flight was delayed two days as a result of officials being notified of an industry-wide concern with electrical connectors. That prompted precautionary inspections of power and commanding connectors aboard the rocket.


“Frankly, a day or two delay cannot possibly compare to the loss of a vital national asset,” said Walt Lauderdale, the Air Force’s GPS 2F-12 mission director.



The GPS 2F-12 satellite. Credit: ULA



This is the 12th and final spacecraft built by Boeing for the Air Force under the Block 2F program. The craft have featured improved accuracy, better anti-jamming and longer design lives than previous designs.


“We stand ready to launch the final GPS 2F vehicle. This mission will signify an end of an era with completion of the 2F series and exemplify the historic milestone and achievement for all of us involved,” said Col. Steve Whitney, director of the Air Force’s Global Positioning Systems Directorate.


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U.S. private space companies plan surge in launches this year


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Feb 3 (Reuters) - U.S. private space companies Space Exploration Technologies and United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing N>, have scheduled more than 30 launches from Florida this year, up from 18 last year, according to company and Air Force officials.


The jump in planned launches reflects increasing demand for commercial communications and imaging satellites, as well as business from the U.S. military, International Space Station cargo ships and a NASA asteroid sample return mission. SpaceX and ULA fly from pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, just south of NASA's spaceport.


"We want to be able to fly every week, for sure, if not multiple times in a week," SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said at a webcast commercial space conference in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.


The launch rate is expected to continue to climb as new companies, including Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, enters the market later this decade. The launch services industry generated global revenues of $5.9 billion in 2014, according to a report last year by the Satellite Industry Association.


The first launch from Florida this year is slated for Friday when a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasts off to put a Boeing-built Global Positioning System satellite into orbit for the Air Force.


"The last time we saw 30-plus launches would have been back in the 1960s," said business strategist Dale Ketcham with the state-backed Space Florida economic development agency.

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ULA Launches GPS IIF-12 For USAF



GPS IIF-12 Launch    ULA



United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched its first mission of the year with an Atlas V rocket carrying the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-12 satellite for the U.S. Air Force.


The rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on Feb. 5 at 8:38 a.m. EST.


GPS IIF-12 is the final satellite in the IIF-block of satellites, which are the next-generation GPS satellites that incorporate numerous improvements to provide greater accuracy, increased signals and enhanced performance for users. This mission was ULA's 104th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.


"Congratulations to the ULA, Boeing and Air Force teams on the successful launch of GPS IIF-12. We began launching the IIF satellites in May 2010 and have appreciated the outstanding teamwork of everyone involved as we have worked together to deliver all 12 IIF satellites. This system provides incredible capabilities to our women and men in uniform while enabling so many technologies that impact all of our daily lives. We are proud to be GPS's ride to space," said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president, Custom Services.


The mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.


Today's flight utilizes a newly designed suite of avionics, flight software and ground systems. This upgraded command and control system was designed to reduce cost and improve reliability.


ULA's next launch is the Delta IV NROL-45 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office, scheduled for Feb. 10 from Space Launch Complex-6 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.


The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.


With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation's most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.








Launch of GPS IIF-12 on Atlas V Rocket from Cape Canaveral

video is 5:48 min.





Atlas V 401 Launch! | GPS IIF 12 | KNews #30

video is 3:46 min.







Advanced space propulsion startup shuts down



Escape Dynamics had planned to develop a single-stage launch vehicle using its beamed propulsion technology, but could not attract sufficient investment to continue work. Credit: Escape Dynamics



WASHINGTON — A Colorado company that said last year it had achieved a technological breakthrough in space transportation has decided to shut down, citing the high costs and risks associated with further development.


Escape Dynamics of Broomfield, Colorado, announced on its website recently that it decided to wind down its operations because its “external propulsion” technology was not attractive enough to potential investors to fund its continued development.


“While microwave propulsion is feasible and is capable of efficiency and performance surpassing chemical rockets, the cost of completing the R&D all the way through operations makes the concept economically unattractive for our team at this time,” the company stated in a brief note posted on its website.


“We also concluded that at current stage technical risks and uncertainty about the cost and timeline are still very high and are not attractive to private investors,” the statement continued. “Therefore, we decided to discontinue the operation of Escape Dynamics and stopped the R&D effort at the end of 2015.”


The company did not disclose additional details about its decision, and did not respond to an email inquiry Feb. 2. It’s unclear how many employees lost their jobs when the company decided to shut down, but an undated group photo on the site included 20 people.


Escape Dynamics had been working on microwave propulsion technology, where a transmitter on the ground beams microwaves to a vehicle ascending into space. The microwaves heat a propellant such as helium or hydrogen to generate thrust.


Beamed propulsion technology offers the potential of simpler and more efficient launch vehicles, and therefore less expensive access to space. Tests by Escape Dynamics indicated that microwave propulsion had a specific impulse, a measure of rocket engine efficiency, higher than the most energetic chemical propellants in common use today.


“Microwave-powered launch is the next giant leap in spaceflight because it has the capability to produce specific impulse above the threshold needed for single-stage-to-orbit operations,” said company president Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux in a presentation last July at the NewSpace 2015 conference in San Jose, California.


At the conference, Garriott announced that Escape Dynamics had completed a small-scale test of microwave propulsion in its lab, using microwaves to heat up helium propellant and generating thrust. The tests demonstrated the effectiveness of overall technology, she said.


The company had plans to scale up the tests over the next few years, conducting tests in the field using hydrogen propellant. It eventually planned to develop a reusable single-stage launch vehicle using microwave propulsion to carry payloads weighing up to 200 kilograms into orbit at about one percent the cost of current launch systems.


“We are three years into an eight-year plan,” Garriott said in July. The company did not disclose how much it had raised, or how much it expected its full development program to cost.





Anyone Can Download Raw NASA Airplane and Drone videos - From NASA



Keith's note: After using Uncle Google for a while and searching for NASA airplane tail numbers etc. I came across a website run by NASA Ames online at http://asp-archive.arc.nasa.gov If you go here you can download all kinds of NASA airplane and drone footage going back a number of years.


This really, really ugly HTML 1.0-flavored NASA website is sort of a central uploading point for lots of NASA aircraft imagery and flight data before that data is used by various programs for their research activities. No hacking or FOIA requests required. As best I can tell, some of these "hacked" YouTube videos would seem to have been from NASA's DC-8 N817NA and also NASA 439 C-130H (neither of which are "drones", BTW).


And of course if you go to this other NASA website https://airbornescience.nasa.gov/aircraft_detailed_cal you can see which NASA planes went where over the past few years via a somewhat better designed website. Nothing is being done in secret.



here are the sites...






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Busy day all of a sudden....


A Russian Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket laden with the navigation satellite Glonass-M blasted off from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia on Sunday, the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry said.



MOSCOW (Sputnik) — This is the first launch of the Soyuz-2.1b rocket from Plesetsk in 2016.

"On Sunday, at 03.21 a.m. Moscow time [24:21 GMT] a squad of Russian Space Forces of Russian Aerospace Forces successfully carried out a launch of a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the navigation satellite Glonass-M," the press service told RIA Novosti.



GLONASS-51 to replenish Russia's navigation network



Russian military launched a navigation satellite to replace its failed predecessor in the nation's GLONASS constellation. The Soyuz-2-1b rocket lifted off as scheduled from Russia's military launch site in Plesetsk on February 7, 2016, at 03:21 Moscow Time (7:21 p.m. EST on February 6), carrying the GLONASS-M-51 satellite.


GLONASS-K (left) and GLONASS-M satellites (a.k.a. Uragan) during processing at ISS Reshetnev in Zheleznogorsk circa 2015.



Launch on time

According to the official TASS news agency, the military personnel of the Air and Space Forces conducted preparations and launch of the Soyuz-2-1b rocket from Site 43 in Plesetsk as planned. General Viktor Bondarev, the commander of the Air and Space Forces oversaw the liftoff, TASS said.


Several minutes later, Russian officials confirmed that the Fregat upper stage with the GLONASS-M satellite had successfully separated from the third stage of the Soyuz-2-1b rocket at 03:31 Moscow Time on February 7 (7:31 p.m. EST on February 6).



indepth analysis...







N. Korea launches space rocket in defiance of sanctions threats



The rocket took off at around 9:00 am Pyongyang time (0030 GMT), according to the South Korean defence ministry which was monitoring the launch site.



North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday, violating UN resolutions and doubling down against an international community already struggling to punish Pyongyang for a nuclear test last month.


Pyongyang insists its space programme is purely scientific, but most of the world views its rocket launches as disguised ballistic missile tests aimed at developing a weapons delivery system capable of striking the US mainland.


There was no immediate confirmation that the final stage of the satellite-bearing rocket had successfully achieved orbit, and an unconfirmed report from South Korea's Yonhap news agency suggested the second stage may have malfunctioned.


A US defence official said the launch vehicle "appears to have reached space."


North Korean state television said it would make a special announcement at 0330 GMT.


Condemnation was swift, with the United States calling the launch "destabilising" and provocative, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slammed it as "absolutely intolerable."


In New York, diplomats said the UN Security Council would meet in emergency session later Sunday.





China Conducts Final Tests on Most Powerful Homegrown Rocket



Long March 5 will be available in a variety of configurations.



China's largest and most powerful rocket the Long March 5 underwent final tests at the Wen-chang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan province.


The rocket's first flight will be conducted in September, according to a senior project manager. The Long March 5 is China's latest and most technologically advanced rocket.


The tests were conducted for more than 130 days of September last year.


The Chang'e 5 lunar probe, which will land on the moon and take samples before returning to Earth, also took part in the tests, said Li Dong, a senior designer at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology and head of the Long March 5 project, newspaper China's Daily reported.


Li said the tests were the riskiest and most sophisticated that China has ever conducted on its rockets and involved about 300 engineers.


The tests' results will be used to improve the first mass-production rocket, which will be launched in September, he added.


The Long March 5 is nearly 57 meters high, with a diameter of 5 m. "It has a liftoff weight of around 800 metric tons; it will have a maximum payload capacity of 25 metric tons in the low Earth orbit and 14 metric tons in geosynchronous transfer orbit roughly comparable to those of the United States' Delta IV and Atlas V," China Daily wrote.


After the Long March 5 becomes operational, it will be used to launch large lunar probes and the manned space station that China plans to send into orbit around 2020.





Photos show Aftermath of Chinese Rocket Debris Impact



Photo: 9ifly.cn



Photo: 9ifly.cn



Photo: 9ifly.cn



Photos emerged on the Internet of the aftermath of this week’s successful launch of a Long March 3C rocket carrying China’s next Beidou-3 third-generation navigation satellite to orbit. Shown in the images is the scenery immediately following the impact of the twin boosters of the Long March rocket with a large cloud of toxic propellant residuals rising from the wreckage of the spent boosters.


The 56-meter tall Long March 3C Rocket thundered off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 7:29 UTC on Monday, heading uphill with a total thrust of 458-metric-ton-force. Swinging to the south-east, the rocket began heading across the Chinese mainland, en-route to a pass over the Island of Hainan before flying out over the Pacific Ocean. The twin boosters fired for two minutes and 20 seconds, separating from the larger core stage that continued firing for another twenty seconds using its four-engine cluster.


Stage 2 fired for three minutes before handing off to the cryogenic third stage which boosted the stack into a preliminary orbit. Separating from the carrier rocket, it was up to the YZ-1 upper stage to conduct a pair of engine burns – the first immediately after separation to raise the apogee to the desired altitude and the second after a multi-hour coast phase to circularize the orbit over 21,000 Kilometers in altitude. A successful spacecraft separation was confirmed by official Chinese media several hours after the launch.


After the various stages of the CZ-3C rocket had done their job and separated from the carrier rocket, they continued on a ballistic arc, eventually impacting downrange from the Xichang launch site. Navigational warnings were published ahead of the launch and the Chinese military oftentimes clears downrange impact zones to ensure no harm to human life is caused by falling rocket debris.


Spectacular photos were captured in Panxian County, about 370 Kilometers downrange from the launch site, where the boosters impacted. The photos, published via the Chinese social media service Weibo, show the aftermath of the booster’s return to Earth in the form of a very large cloud of residual, unburnt propellant released upon impact of the boosters. The orange-brown color is caused by Nitrogen Tetroxide, used as oxidizer on the boosters, first and second stage of the Long March 3C rocket. Nitrogen Tetroxide, as well as the Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine fuel, are toxic substances and their release can be harmful to humans and the environment.


No casualties were reported as a result of the impact of the boosters and further images show the wreckage of the boosters in a forest, still releasing toxic propellant fumes. Photos of Chinese rocket and fairing debris are not uncommon since most Chinese rocket stages end up on land due to the use of inland launch sites. Usually, rocket stages are retrieved from the crash sites by the Chinese military to become scrap metal.


China’s future launch vehicles will step away from the use of hypergolic propellants, facilitating a major change in rocket technology and switching from toxic propellants to the more environmentally friendly Kerosene/LOX propellant combination. Long March 6 fills the light-lift spot in China’s new launch vehicle fleet, operating alongside the medium-lift Long March 7 and the heavy-weight Long March 5. The new launchers use modular systems and common components across the different rockets as a cost-saving measure and to quickly build up flight heritage.


To alleviate the problem of rocket debris falling on China’s mainland, the country will open the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center for business this year with the first launches of the CZ-5 and CZ-7 rockets. Located on Hainan Island, the launch base is China’s southernmost orbital launch site and offers ascent trajectories over the ocean. However, Chinas heritage rockets will continue flying from the three inland launch centers for years to come and more impacts of engines and rocket parts on villages and housing areas will be inevitable.




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Some of the launch video's have finally made it online....


Russia: Soyuz rocket launches Glonass-M satellite into space

video is 2:11 min.






North Korea: Successful Launch of Kwangmyongsong-4 Satellite

video is 2:56 min.





//s   Someone needs to give "Captain Clueless Kim" and his "band of lemmings" a wake up call, 



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The Nork launcher was an Unha-3, a 3 stage liquid which doubles as a flying HAZMAT spill.

S1 & S2: over 78 tonnes of red fuming nitric acid and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine

S3: LOX & RP-2

Its no wonder the Japanese fire up their Aegis SM-3 Ballistic Missile Defense batterys every time the Norks launch. 

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13 hours ago, DocM said:

The Nork launcher was an Unha-3, a 3 stage liquid which doubles as a flying HAZMAT spill.



excellent description...excuse me while I wipe my keyboard off........:D

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Launch Schedule


Feb. 10Delta 4 • NROL-45
Launch period: 1100-1300 GMT (6-8 a.m. EST; 3-5 a.m. PST)
Launch site: SLC-6, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket will launch a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government agency that develops and owns spy satellites. The rocket will fly in the Medium+ (5,2) configuration with two solid rocket boosters. Delayed from April 15, June 6, Sept. 15 and Dec. 9. [Jan. 1]
Feb. 12H-2A • Astro-H
Launch window: 0845-0930 GMT (3:45-4:30 a.m. EST)
Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
A Japanese H-2A rocket will launch the Astro-H X-ray observatory for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Astro-H will observe the X-ray universe, studying objects such as supernova explosions, supermassive black holes, and galaxy clusters. Delayed from late 2015. [Dec. 12]
FebruaryFalcon 9 • SES 9
Launch window: TBD
Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the SES 9 communications satellite. Owned by SES of Luxembourg, the spacecraft will provide direct-to-home and other communications services over Northeast Asia, South Asia and Indonesia, as well as maritime communications for vessels in the Indian Ocean. The rocket will fly on a full-thrust version of the Falcon 9 rocket. Delayed from July 15, August, November, December and Feb. 6. [Jan. 28]
Feb. 16Rockot • Sentinel 3A
Launch time: 1757 GMT (12:57 p.m. EST)
Launch site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
A Eurockot Rockot vehicle will launch with the Sentinel 3A Earth observation satellite for the European Space Agency and the European Commission. Sentinel 3A carries instruments to measure sea surface topography, sea and land surface temperature, and ocean and land color. Delayed from Oct. 31 and Dec. 10. [Feb. 4]





As Doc has covered in the SpaceX thread 7, we have a tentative date for SES-9


SES: We plan Feb. 24 SpaceX launch of SES-9 satellite



PARIS—Satellite fleet operator SES on Feb. 8 said it is targeting Feb. 24 for the launch of its SES-9 telecommunications satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full-Thrust rocket, a launch that has been repeatedly delayed since September.


Luxembourg-based SES said SpaceX has agreed to modify the SES-9 launch profile to permit the satellite to enter commercial service in before July, as was planned in December, before the latest series of launch delays.





Sentinel-3A fully tanked



All wrapped up and fueled ready to go.



With the launch of Sentinel-3A confirmed for 16 February, preparations for liftoff are charging full speed ahead. The tricky task of fuelling the satellite has now been ticked off the 'to do list' and the propulsion team is already decontaminating their equipment before returning home.


Official confirmation of the new launch date had to come before the team could start this delicate operation.


The hydrazine fuel is extremely toxic so only a few specialists remained in the cleanroom during fuelling. A doctor and security staff waited nearby with an ambulance and fire engine ready to respond to any problems.


After fuelling, the tank was pressurised to an 'intermediate level' and left to stabilise overnight. The following day, the team gradually increased the pressure to the level needed.


ESA's Sentinel-3A launch campaign manager, Kristof Gantois, said, "We are really happy to have passed this important milestone. The Thales Alenia Space propulsion team and our propulsion expert executed this challenging task brilliantly.


"We can now get ready for the next milestone which is when we place the satellite within the fairing half shells, sealing it from view. This will be the last time any of us see our baby so we shall all feel a little sad but at the same time elated that we are so close to launch."


The Plesetsk launch pad is also now 'fully certified', an issue which pushed the launch date to 16 February and the Rockot launcher is also being prepared for the big day.


The rocket upper stage is back in the cleanroom after a dry run out on the pad and the next steps involve cleaning the rocket fairing and making it ready to receive the satellite next week. Also, now that the satellite has been fuelled, the Breeze part of the upper stage will be fuelled before the weekend.


So, the launch campaign is progressing swiftly and the Sentinel-3A satellite will soon be in orbit around Earth to begin its job of monitoring the health of our planet.


Once operational, it will systematically map Earth's surface using instruments that include a medium-resolution multispectral imager, a precision infrared radiometer and a powerful synthetic aperture radar altimeter.


This workhorse mission will deliver data within three hours of sensing, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. While these data will be fed primarily into the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service, all the Copernicus services will benefit to produce knowledge and information products in near-real time for a wide range of applications.


Sentinel-3A is essential for applications for ocean and coastal monitoring, numerical weather and ocean prediction, sea-level change and sea-surface topography monitoring, ocean primary production estimation and land-cover change mapping.






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3 hours ago, Draggendrop said:



excellent description...excuse me while I wipe my keyboard off........:D

Bwahaha! Flying Hazmat spill .. yeah, that's about as accurate a description as I've ever heard.


Oh, and don't forget your North Korean coffee and warm North Korean blankets that the NK-Aid Workers have handed out to all of us poor, homeless, starving, cold, destitute North Americans because none of us can afford anything. Apparently the Rich Bankers and Scheming, Corrupt Government Agencies (TM) have it out for all of us, according to the North Korean media.


What a crock. North Korea's Government needs to be lined up, collectively, and sprayed with mace. Then hit again with CX. Then shot. :yes: 

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North Korea satellite 'tumbling in orbit,' U.S. official says



The satellite North Korea fired into space on Sunday is "tumbling in orbit" and incapable of functioning in any useful way, a senior U.S. defense official told CNN.


Sunday's launch of the long-range rocket triggered a wave of international condemnation and prompted strong reaction from an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.


North Korea maintained the launch was for scientific and "peaceful purposes."


South Korea has recovered about 270 pieces of debris, believed to have come from the rocket launch, from the ocean Sunday and is working to analyze the objects, a South Korean Defense Ministry official told CNN.


However unlike previous launches, North Korea appears to have affixed a self-destructing device to the rocket booster in order to prevent other parties from studying its capabilities.

First the launch an "orbiting bowling ball", then grenade toxic shrapnel all over the place. Outstanding "science".

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Got a few images of the Feb. 10th Delta 4 NROL-45 at Vandenberg from 200 miles south in Lake Forest. Was able to see it all the way through the first stage on the clear night we had :)






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5 hours ago, Emn1ty said:

Got a few images of the Feb. 10th Delta 4 NROL-45 at Vandenberg from 200 miles south in Lake Forest. Was able to see it all the way through the first stage on the clear night we had :)






Excellent...Thank you for taking the time to capture these images and post them here for us to see. It means so much more to have a poster on the ground near the event and displaying the "real deal".....just  excellent....:D


as a follow up....


Delta 4 goes against the grain to backwards orbit for spy bird



A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket maneuvered a new spy satellite into a unique retrograde orbit this morning to join an expanding constellation of radar-imaging spacecraft.


The 217-foot-tall orange and white vehicle used its hydrogen-fueled main engine and a pair of side-mounted solid rocket boosters to fire away from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 3:40:32 a.m. local time (6:40:32 a.m. EST; 1140:32 GMT), an exacting moment required by the clandestine payload.



Indepth analysis



Photos: Delta 4 rocket revealed



Delta IV NROL-45 Payload Mate

video is 1:08 min.






USA: Delta 4 rocket successfully launches NROL-45 payload

video is 0:52 min.





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Launch Schedule


Feb. 12H-2A • Astro-H
Launch window: 0845-0930 GMT (3:45-4:30 a.m. EST)
Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
A Japanese H-2A rocket will launch the Astro-H X-ray observatory for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Astro-H will observe the X-ray universe, studying objects such as supernova explosions, supermassive black holes, and galaxy clusters. Delayed from late 2015. [Dec. 12]
Feb. 16Rockot • Sentinel 3A
Launch time: 1757 GMT (12:57 p.m. EST)
Launch site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
A Eurockot Rockot vehicle will launch with the Sentinel 3A Earth observation satellite for the European Space Agency and the European Commission. Sentinel 3A carries instruments to measure sea surface topography, sea and land surface temperature, and ocean and land color. Delayed from Oct. 31 and Dec. 10. [Feb. 4]
Feb. 24Falcon 9 • SES 9
Launch time: 2346 GMT (6:46 p.m. EST)
Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the SES 9 communications satellite. Owned by SES of Luxembourg, the spacecraft will provide direct-to-home and other communications services over Northeast Asia, South Asia and Indonesia, as well as maritime communications for vessels in the Indian Ocean. The rocket will fly on a full-thrust version of the Falcon 9 rocket. Delayed from July 15, August, November, December and Feb. 6. [Feb. 9]





North Korean satellite still silent but no longer tumbling



 The North Korean satellite launched Saturday is no longer tumbling, but is still not transmitting.


Initial reports from U.S. military sources said the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite was tumbling, but unnamed sources now say the satellite’s orientation has stabilized.


There’s no confirmation, however, that the satellite is transmitting, which could suggest other problems with what North Korea claims is an Earth observation satellite. [Reuters]



Hopefully, it has no self destruct......:(




ESA's Asteroid Micro-Lander



Asteroid micro-lander      ESA



This is the micro-lander that ESA's proposed Asteroid Impact Mission would put down on its target asteroid.


The asteroid body in question is just 170 m in diameter the smaller body of the binary Didymos system so roughly the same size as the Great Pyramid of Giza. It orbits just 1.2 km above the larger 800-m diameter primary Didymos asteroid (shown in the background here), to complete a circuit every 12 hours.


Around the size of a microwave oven, the micro-lander would be ESA's first lander on a small body since Rosetta's Philae lander touched down on Comet 67P/ChuryumovGerasimenko in November 2014.


The asteroid lander, named Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout-2 (MASCOT-2), is under study by the German Aerospace Center DLR. MASCOT-1 is a lander already on board Japan's Hayabusa 2 mission, which was launched on 3 December 2014 to reach its target asteroid in 2018.


Like its predecessor, MASCOT-2 would carry a compact wide-angle camera and a radiometer for close-up examination of the asteroid surface.

In addition, MASCOT-2 would be equipped with a low-frequency radar to help probe the interior of the asteroid it rests on with AIM picking up the radar signals from the asteroid's far side. Accelerometers will record full details of its impact with the surface, while solar panels should give the micro-lander at least three months of working life.


AIM, currently undergoing detailed design work in preparation for a 'go/no go' decision at the end of this year, would be humanity's first mission to a double asteroid system.


NASA's own Double Asteroid Redirection Test probe, or DART, will impact the same asteroid, with AIM providing detailed before-and-after mapping to help assess the effects and test planetary defence techniques. The two missions together are known as the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (AIDA) mission.


ESA has teamed up with the organisers of the annual Asteroid Day on 30 June to increase public awareness of potential asteroid impacts with Earth, and the importance of increasing our knowledge about these small bodies.




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Found this while searching articles....


The Delta 4, NROL-45 launch, which just occurred, was observed to have flames on the booster. This was noted as being common due to hydrogen burn off.











The flames (and resulting blackened insulation) is normal for this vehicle, as described in a 2005 Aviation Week article:

The Delta IV is the only launch vehicle that, by design, sets itself on fire during its ignition sequence.

Thousands of pounds of hydrogen are dumped through the vehicle's three RS-68 engines to condition their internal temperatures five seconds before oxygen valves are opened for ignition.


The hydrogen forms a cloud around the vehicle that is burned off spark generators to avoid an explosive hazard. This causes a huge ball of fire that blackens the core and the 125-ft. liquid strap-on boosters.


During climbout, free hydrogen continues to attach itself to the base of the vehicle, where it burns on insulation designed for that purpose. So while the fire is inconsequential, parts of the boattail remain ablaze until ascent into thinner air.


Heat emerging from RS-68 fuel turbine exhausts for roll control can also cause flame on the insulation as with the center engine just after liftoff. All of this looks frightening, but is normal.



top 3 images from..





Credit: ULA/Pat Corkery, last year



I would have a tough time convincing myself that this was normal...lawn chair would be in the next county...:D

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Yup, vented hydrogen burnoff is common with the Delta IV and especially the Heavy. Makes for quite a show at times. It's also extremely expensive per launch, and there's this problem with the liquid hydrogen load/unload valves sticking. This caused a one day scrub during the first Orion/Delta IV Heavy flight.

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I figured you would see that and help....I still have this image of hydrogen tied to the Hindenburg...we know how that went...This is what makes it hard to see that flame around that launcher...but, I guess one gets used to it.




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Launch of Japanese X-ray observatory postponed



Ground crews prepare the Astro-H spacecraft for launch at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Credit: JAXA



The Japanese space agency said Thursday the launch of an X-ray astrophysics observatory is postponed from Friday due to a poor weather forecast at the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.


The Astro-H mission is awaiting launch aboard a Japanese H-2A rocket to begin a three-year mission observing black holes and measuring the structure of the universe with better precision than ever before.


Led by the Japanese space agency — JAXA — with contributions from NASA, Europe and Canada, Astro-H will peer into regions of space near black holes to see how the immense gravitational tug from the massive objects distort spacetime.


Carrying four instruments and two telescopes, the Astro-H satellite is the sixth in a series of Japanese X-ray missions launched since 1979.


Astronomers will use Astro-H to study how clusters of galaxies — the largest structures in the universe — form and evolve over billions of years. Detections from Astro-H could also help scientists learn about the genesis of heavy elements, such as the carbon and oxygen essential for life, after the Big Bang.


X-ray emissions from the cosmos can only be observed from a satellite in space because Earth’s atmosphere blocks X-ray light from penetrating to the ground.


“We see X-rays from sources throughout the universe, wherever the particles in matter reach sufficiently high energies,” said Robert Petre, chief of the X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the U.S. project scientist for Astro-H. “These energies arise in a variety of settings, including stellar explosions, extreme magnetic fields, or strong gravity, and X-rays let us probe aspects of these phenomena that are inaccessible by instruments observing at other wavelengths.”


Packaged inside the nose cone of a Japanese H-2A rocket, the Astro-H satellite weighs 2.7 metric tons — nearly 6,000 pounds — with a full load of propellant.


The mission was set for liftoff Friday at 0845 GMT (3:45 a.m. EST; 5:45 p.m. Japan Standard Time), but JAXA officials wrote on the agency’s Twitter account the flight was grounded due to poor weather.


The launch range at Tanegashima is reserved for the Astro-H flight through Feb. 29, JAXA said.





Re-Entry: Flock 1E-9



Planet Labs’ Flock 1E-9 satellite re-entered the atmosphere on February 8, 2016 after seven months in orbit, collecting Earth imagery that Planet Labs offers on the commercial market.


NORAD ID: 40736
Object: Flock-1 CubeSat, 3U
Mass: ~3kg
Released from ISS: July 15, 2015 – 6:01 UTC
Origin: USA
Inclination: 51.6°

Re-Entry Prediction: February 8, 2016 – 03:25 UTC +/- 27 Minutes
Re-Entry Zone: Unknown


Satellite Description: Flock-1 represents a constellation of three-unit CubeSats operated by Planet Labs to build an Earth-observation constellation based on CubeSats. The satellites were first released from ISS in February 2014 to start orbiting Earth for several months, acquiring images of chosen ground targets.





N. Korea's controversial satellite is tumbling again



WASHINGTON - For a moment there, it seemed like North Korea's boisterous claims about its space prowess were correct.


After the controversial rocket launch over the weekend, analysts initially said the satellite on board -- which many dismiss as a ruse for testing missiles capable of reaching the U.S. -- was "tumbling through orbit," defense officials told CBS News.


Then on Tuesday U.S. defense officials said it appeared to have stabilized in its orbit.


Now, however, Pentagon officials tell CBS News the latest satellite is once again out of control in its space trajectory and therefore is likely useless.

North Korea claims to have put four satellites into orbit, but the first two have never been confirmed by anyone else.


Experts worldwide agree it got one into orbit in 2012 and NORAD, which is hardly a propaganda mouthpiece for Pyongyang, now has both that and the satellite launched on Sunday on its official satellite list.


Kwangmyongsong 4, the satellite launched Sunday, has the NORAD catalog number 41332 and Kwangmyongsong 3-2, launched in 2012, is 39026. They are described as Earth observation satellites, and weigh about 220 pounds apiece.


Their main applications, according to Pyongyang, are monitoring the weather, mapping natural resources and forest distributions and providing data that might help farmers improve their crops.


Whether they actually can achieve those purposes is another matter.


No signals from the previous satellite, which North Korea claimed transmitted the "Song of General Kim Il Sung" and "Song of General Kim Jong Il" after achieving orbit, have ever been confirmed by outside observers. That might be because it was never stable enough to transmit anything back home.



They have just launched their second "orbital space heater"....

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SPECTACULAR Photos of a Rocket Re-Entering Over Hawaii!



Around 2 a.m. local time on Saturday, astrophotographer Steve Cullen was driving home from visiting the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. He stopped at around 11,000 feet to take some panorama shots of the peak … but what he got was much more.


He noticed an orange light heading up into the sky out of the west. It was moving across the sky at about the speed you’d expect from a satellite, but at that time of night no satellite moving at that rate would be lit by the Sun, so it wouldn’t be visible.


Within seconds, though, it became clear what he was seeing: some sort of human-made space debris re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. How?


It turns out this was almost certainly the remains of a Chinese Long March rocket body, predicted to burn up over that area at around that time:


The rocket launched on Sept. 12, 2015, carrying a very secret satellite of some kind. Once the satellite is in orbit the rocket is no longer needed, so it’s allowed to burn up as it falls back to Earth. Doing so over the enormous Pacific Ocean minimizes the risk of debris doing any damage once it’s down.













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Launch Schedule


Feb. 16Rockot • Sentinel 3A
Launch time: 1757:31 GMT (12:57:31 p.m. EST)
Launch site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
A Eurockot Rockot vehicle will launch with the Sentinel 3A Earth observation satellite for the European Space Agency and the European Commission. Sentinel 3A carries instruments to measure sea surface topography, sea and land surface temperature, and ocean and land color. Delayed from Oct. 31 and Dec. 10. [Feb. 4]
Feb. 17H-2A • Astro-H
Launch window: 0845-0930 GMT (3:45-4:30 a.m. EST)
Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
A Japanese H-2A rocket will launch the Astro-H X-ray observatory for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Astro-H will observe the X-ray universe, studying objects such as supernova explosions, supermassive black holes, and galaxy clusters. Delayed from late 2015 and Feb. 12. [Feb. 14]
Feb. 24Falcon 9 • SES 9
Launch time: 2346-0123 GMT (6:46-8:23 p.m. EST)
Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the SES 9 communications satellite. Owned by SES of Luxembourg, the spacecraft will provide direct-to-home and other communications services over Northeast Asia, South Asia and Indonesia, as well as maritime communications for vessels in the Indian Ocean. The rocket will fly on a full-thrust version of the Falcon 9 rocket. Delayed from July 15, August, November, December and Feb. 6. [Feb. 14]





Rocket Lab to launch Spire satellites



Rocket Lab's Electron small launch vehicle. Credit: Rocket Lab



WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab, a New Zealand company developing a small launch vehicle, announced a contract Feb. 14 with Spire to launch a number of that company’s small satellites through next year.


Under the contract, Spire will launch some of its satellites on up to 12 launches of Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from New Zealand. Those launches are scheduled to begin in late 2016 and run through 2017.


The announcement did not mention how many satellites will be launched. Spire spokeswoman Maya Varma said Feb. 15 that the “precise configuration and quantity of satellites” on those launches had yet to be determined.


San Francisco-based Spire is developing a constellation of more than 100 cubesat-class spacecraft to collect weather data through a technique known as GPS radio occultation, and also provide maritime tracking services. Spire launched its first four satellites last September as secondary payloads on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.


Neither Spire nor Rocket Lab disclosed the value of the contract. Rocket Lab, which started selling payload space on its launches through its website last year, offers a three-unit cubesat on launches in 2017 for $250,000. The company’s launches through 2017 are listed as “fully booked” on its site.

Spire is the second company to have announced a multi-launch contract with Rocket Lab. Florida-based Moon Express, a competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize, announced a contract with Rocket Lab in October for up to five launches of its lunar landers. Rocket Lab also won a $6.9 million contract from NASA in October as part of the agency’s Venture Class Launch Services program to purchase launches on emerging small launch vehicles.


Rocket Lab is still developing Electron, a vehicle designed to carry up to 150 kilograms into a 500-kilometer sun synchronous orbit. The company said last year it was planning to carry out its first launch by the end of 2015, but Electron has yet to fly. Company spokeswoman Catherine Moreau-Hammond said Feb. 15 that the company plans to start test launches of Electron in the middle of this year.


The company is also switching launch sites. In July, the company announced plans to establish a launch site at Kaitorete Spit, a narrow strip of land along the Pacific Ocean on New Zealand’s South Island, south of the city of Christchurch. However, in December the company instead broke ground on a site on Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand’s North Island.


Moreau-Hammond said the company is working on both sites, although the Mahia Peninsula site will be the first to host Electron launches. “The Mahia site has progressed faster, and offers a wider range of orbital azimuths and facilitates a higher launch cadence than Kaitorete Spit,” she said.


Spire is not relying on Rocket Lab alone for launches. Varma said Spire plans to launch more than 20 satellites in the first half of this year on an unspecified set of launches. More launches, she added, are “already slated for the latter half of 2016 and into 2017 on a near monthly basis.”




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for tomorrow...



Feb. 16Rockot • Sentinel 3A
Launch time: 1757:31 GMT (12:57:31 p.m. EST)
Launch site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia
A Eurockot Rockot vehicle will launch with the Sentinel 3A Earth observation satellite for the European Space Agency and the European Commission. Sentinel 3A carries instruments to measure sea surface topography, sea and land surface temperature, and ocean and land color. Delayed from Oct. 31 and Dec. 10. [Feb. 4]



How to Watch the Sentinel-3A Launch on Tuesday



Sentinel-3 is ejected from the Breeze upper stage of the ROCKOT launcher. (Credit: ESA–Pierre Carril)



PARIS (ESA PR) — Live from ESA, follow the event to celebrate the launch of the third satellite for Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring programme.

The first in the two-satellite mission, Sentinel-3A, is set for launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on 16 February at 17:57 GMT.

During the event at ESA’s ESOC European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, a number of the key players in the mission will talk about preparing the satellite for launch and discuss its benefits and applications.

The live webstream will begin at 17:00 GMT and end at 19:40 GMT, with a break 18:25–19:10 GMT.

(All Times in GMT)

17:00 Introduction and welcome addresses by representatives from ESA, the European Commission and the German government

17:20 Status check and introduction to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome

17:30 Introduction to the Copernicus programme and the Sentinel-3 mission

17:50 Live broadcast from Plesetsk

17:57 Liftoff

18:05 Discussion with a panel of Sentinel-3 data users

18:20 Flight update

18:25 Break

19:10 Live broadcast from Plesetsk: status check

19:20 Presentation on the Copernicus programme and ESA heritage

19:30 Watch the first acquisition of signal live from the Mission Control Room

19:40 End of live coverage from ESOC



ESA Livestream




The main objective of the SENTINEL-3 mission is to measure sea surface topography, sea and land surface temperature, and ocean and land surface colour with high accuracy and reliability to support ocean forecasting systems, environmental monitoring and climate monitoring.


The SENTINEL-3 Mission Guide provides a high-level description of the mission objectives, satellite description and ground segment. It also covers an introduction to heritage missions, thematic areas and services, orbit characteristics and coverage, instrument payloads and data products.


The SENTINEL-3 mission will be jointly operated by ESA and EUMETSAT to deliver operational ocean and land observation services.

SENTINEL-3 data package




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Photos: Sentinel 3A prepared for liftoff



Europe’s Sentinel 3A satellite, designed for real-time surveys of the world’s oceans, ice sheets, lakes and rivers, is attached to a decommissioned Russian nuclear missile for launch Tuesday.

The 2,526-pound (1,146-kilogram) spacecraft is fitted inside the nose cone of a 95-foot-tall (29-meter) Rockot launcher at Complex 133 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a military facility in Russia’s Far North.

The Rockot’s booster stages come from a retired SS-19 missile originally developed to deliver nuclear warheads to targets around the world. A Breeze KM upper stage fastened atop the Rockot will deploy Sentinel 3A into orbit for the European Space Agency and the European Commission, beginning a mission of at least seven years to measure sea level changes, ice sheets, ocean and land color, and marine biology.

The photos below chronicle Sentinel 3A’s attachment Feb. 7 to the Rockot launcher’s Breeze KM upper stage, which will fire its main engine twice to inject the satellite into a 500-mile-high (800-kilometer) orbit. The images also show the satellite’s encapsulation inside the Rockot’s payload fairing Feb. 8, the signatures of ground teams on the exterior of the nose shroud, and the transfer of the spacecraft composite to the launch pad via locomotive Feb. 12.

The payload package was then hoisted into the mobile gantry surrounding the Rockot booster and attached to the rocket’s second stage. Russian teams next removed a layer of thermal insulation from the payload fairing for liftoff.



all images      Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2016




























Satellite primed for launch to survey oceans, ice sheets



Artist’s view of the launch of Sentinel 3A aboard a Russian Rockot vehicle. This illustration depicts the Rockot’s payload fairing jettisoning a few minutes after liftoff, revealing Sentinel 3A. Credit: ESA–Pierre Carril



Europe’s Sentinel 3A Earth observing spacecraft is fastened atop a Rockot launch vehicle at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a military spaceport in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region about 500 miles (800 kilometers) north of Moscow.


Sentinel 3A is poised to become the third satellite to join Europe’s Copernicus program, which will become the world’s largest environmental satellite system when fully deployed in the early 2020s.



An identical satellite named Sentinel 3B will launch at the end of 2017. Working in tandem, the pair of spacecraft will map the world every two days.

“It’s at our service, at your service, and at my service,” said Craig Donlon, Sentinel 3’s mission scientist at the European Space Agency. “It’s delivering measurements within three hours from sensing 24/7, 365 days per year for the next 15 or 20 years, and that’s really a quantum change in what we can do both in science (and) to give us that bigger picture.”


Flying more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth, Sentinel 3A will peer down at Earth, gather data and broadcast its measurements to users within hours.


“Over the ocean, we will have mean sea level data, we will have information about marine biology, and we will have information about sea surface temperature,” said Susanne Mecklenburg, ESA’s Sentinel 3 mission manager. “Over land, we will cover things like vegetation, agricultural applications, and water resource management by monitoring the heights of rivers and lakes, for example.”



Sentinel 3A’s launch comes after the deployments of Sentinel 1A and Sentinel 2A — designed for disaster response and land surveys — in April 2014 and June 2015.



Artist’s concept of the Sentinel 3A satellite in orbit. Credit: ESA–Pierre Carril



Designed to operate at least seven years, Sentinel 3A is about the size of minivan, and it weighs 2,526 pounds (1,146 kilograms) with a full tank of fuel at launch, according to Berruti.


It was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space of France, which received a contract in early February to build the third and fourth satellites in the Sentinel 3 series — Sentinel 3C and 3D — for launches as soon as 2021.


Within three days, Sentinel 3A should be fully activated and ready for tests and commissioning. If all goes according to plan, Sentinel 3A should be operational by mid-July, Berruti said.


Engineers will incorporate lessons learned from Sentinel 3A into the final preparations for the launch of the follow-on Sentinel 3B spacecraft at the end of 2017. Sentinel 3B will blast off aboard a European Vega rocket from French Guiana.




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Rockot to launch Sentinel-3A



Key components of the Sentinel-3A satellite.



Flight profile


The launch of the Rockot booster with a Briz-KM upper stage is scheduled for February 16, 2016, at 20:57 Moscow Time (12:57 p.m. EST) from Site 133 in Plesetsk. The vehicle will carry the 1,250 kilogram Sentinel-3A satellite for the European Space Agency, ESA.


After few seconds of a vertical ascent, the rocket will head northwest on the so-called retrograde trajectory, which will take the vehicle westward, unlike most orbital missions flying east with the rotation of the Earth. The ascent profile is designed to insert the satellite into an orbit with an inclination 98 degrees toward the Equator, extending from the North Pole to the South Pole of our planet. It enables remote-sensing satellites to observe the entire planet, as the globe makes a full rotation from west to east under the spacecraft's flight path every 24 hours.


The first stage of the Rockot booster should separate two minutes 16 seconds into the flight at an altitude more than 68 kilometers in the upper atmosphere. Then, more than three minutes into the flight, the payload fairing protecting Sentinel-3A is programmed to split into two halves and fall off.


The second stage will continue to fire until 5.3 minutes into the flight, followed by the separation of the Briz-KM upper stage along with the satellite. The Briz-KM will immediately fire its engine for more than nine minutes to insert the stack into a 785 by 153-kilometer initial orbit over the Arctic Canada. The vehicle will then continue a unpowered climb for slightly more than one hour, interrupted only be a pair of short bursts of attitude control thrusters on Briz-KM to put the vehicle into desirable attitude. The third low-thrust firing will orient the stage for the second and final major maneuver of the mission. By that time, the vehicle will be near the highest point (apogee) of its elliptical orbit, where the main engine will fire for 32.4 seconds to make the orbit circular at an altitude of around 817 kilometers. Minutes later, the stage will orient itself for the separation of Sentinel-3A around one hour 20 minutes after the liftoff.


Following the separation of its payload, Briz-KM should perform two maneuvers to enter a burial orbit, where it would not represent a collision threat for other spacecraft.


Shortly after the rocket delivers Sentinel-3A into orbit, control of the satellite will be taken over by ground teams at ESOC, ESA's mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany.


According to Sentinel-3 Mission Manager Susanne Mecklenburg, the first five months of the mission will be dedicated to testing to ensure that the platform and the instruments on the spacecraft are working well and are up for routine operations. During this period, some images and other information from the Sentinel's instruments will be released to expert users for a first feedback on the data quality. At the end of these initial five months, ESA intends to release operationally qualified level 1 Sentinel-3 core data products, and also a preview for some of the geophysical level 2 products.


Once the commissioning is complete, the spacecraft will be handed over to Europe's meteorological organization Eumetsat for routine operations.





The first satellite in the constellation, Sentinel-1A, was launched in April 2014. Sentinel-2, launched on June 23, 2015, was designed to deliver high-resolution optical images for land services. Sentinel-4 and -5 will provide data for atmospheric composition monitoring from geostationary and polar orbits, respectively. Sentinel-6 will carry a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height, primarily for operational oceanography and for climate studies. In addition, a Sentinel-5 Precursor mission is being developed to reduce a time gap in data availability between the operation of the current Envisat satellite, and in particular its Sciamachy instrument, and the launch of new-generation Sentinel-5.



see link for payload equipment nomenclature




Payload section with the Sentinel-3A satellite arrives at Rockot's launch pad at Site 133 in Plesetsk on Feb. 12, 2016.





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So far, so good...the launch was on time when it left the tube...will be about an hour and a half for insertion/health report.



The launch of the Rockot booster with a Briz-KM upper stage took place as scheduled on February 16, 2016, at 20:57 Moscow Time (12:57 p.m. EST) from Site 133 in Plesetsk. The vehicle carried the 1,250 kilogram Sentinel-3A satellite for the European Space Agency, ESA.




The Breeze KM main engine should now have switched off after placing Sentinel 3A into a preliminary elliptical orbit around Earth with a high point of 487 miles (785 kilometers) and a low point of 95 miles (153 kilometers). The upper stage is coasting before reigniting its engine at 1912 GMT (2:12 p.m. EST) for a 32-second firing, followed a few minutes later by separation of the Sentinel 3A satellite.


13:12  Smooth liftoff
The 95-foot-tall Rockot booster lifted off at exactly 1757:40 GMT (12:57:40 p.m. EST), according to ESA.

The two-stage booster, derived from the Soviet-era SS-19 ballistic missile, completed its job in the first five minutes of the flight. The nose cone surrounding the Sentinel 3A oceanography satellite also jettisoned as planned about three minutes after liftoff, officials said.

The Breeze KM upper stage ignited for the first of two burns to place Sentinel 3A into an initial parking orbit, then a near-circular orbit about 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth.

The rocket has passed out of range of Russian ground stations as expected, and the next chance to get an update on the progress of the flight will be in about an hour.


12:59  Liftoff!
Liftoff of the Rockot launcher with Sentinel 3A, kicking off a survey mission to map the world's sea levels, ice sheets and ocean temperatures with unprecedented regularity.












Sentinel-3A launch, video is 0:46 min





will update later with mission parameters and payload health report..



Edited by Draggendrop
data update
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