The Guiana Space Center in French Guiana is preparing to send Sentinel-2B to space to explore Earth. The Sentinel-2B is the fourth satellite in the Copernicus program to be orbited by Arianespace, following successful launches of Sentinel-1A by a Soyuz rocket in April 2014, Sentinental-2A by a Vega rocket in June 2015, and Sentinel 1-B by a Soyuz in April 2016. While many recent launches have been designed to explore the solar system and beyond, this mission is dedicated to observing the Earth. The Sentinel-2B Earth observation satellite primarily focuses on monitoring land masses and coastal zones around the world and its data will be used for applications which monitor vegetation, soil types, and habitats around the Globe.
The Copernicus Earth observation program is executed by the European Commission within the scope of a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA). While Sentinel-2B , built by a consortium led by Airbus, is a European satellite, it will be focused on the entire globe. The Sentinel-2B will be positioned in an orbit opposite that of the Sentinel-2A for maximum coverage and data delivery; this pair of satellites will be able to cover the Earth’s entire surface in five days. Armed with a multi-spectral, wide-swath, high resolution optical imaging instrument, the high frequency of this satellite duo will be able to capture new high-resolution views of Earth, driving considerable progress in monitoring and predicting changes in vegetation and aquatic pollution.
The rocket carrying Sentinel-2B is due to launch 8:49:24pm on Monday, March 6, 2017. The powered phase of Vega’s first three stages will last 6 minutes and 32 seconds. After the first phase, the launcher’s third stage will separate from the upper composite, which includes the AVUM upper stage, a payload adapter and the satellite. The lower three stages will fall into the sea. The AVUM upper stage will ignite its engine for the first time, operating for about 7 minutes, followed by a ballistic phase lasting approximately 40 minutes. The AVUM stage will then reignite its engine for approximately 2 minutes, prior to releasing the Sentinel-2B satellite about 1 minute after the engine is shut down. The Sentinel-2B satellite will finally be released 57 minutes and 56 seconds after lift-off at about 488 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The Sentinel-2B satellite is 10.8 feet by 7.5 feet by 5.6 feet and will orbit in a sun-synchronous orbit at about 488 miles. It is expected to have a service life of 7 years and 3 months.
Arianespace was founded in 1980 as the world’s first launch services & solutions company. Arianespace is a subsidiary of Airbus Safran Launchers, which holds 74% of its share capital; the balance is held by 17 other shareholders from the European launcher industry. Since the outset, Arianespace has signed over 530 launch contracts and launched 550-plus satellites. More than half of the commercial satellites now in service around the globe were launched by Arianespace.