ESA’s Sentinel 2B spacecraft steps into the spotlight
NOORDWIJK, the Netherlands — The European Space Agency (ESA) provided a glimpse of the Sentinel-2B satellite that is set to launch atop a Vega rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, during a media event held on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The spacecraft’s review helped set the stage for its flight, which is currently set for this spring.
“We’re going to be shipping the Sentinel 2B spacecraft to Kourou shortly,” ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher said. “As you know, ESA is developing all of the meteorological satellites for Eumetsat since 1977, since the launch of Meteosat-1.”
ESA‘s Sentinel satellites are a series of spacecraft that have been designed to provide high-resolution Earth-observation imagery as part of the Copernicus program. Sentinel-2B is the latest satellite in the series and it carries a high-resolution multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands to observe land use as well as vegetation growth. It will be paired with Sentinel-2A, which is already in orbit after being launched on June 23, 2015, atop another Vega.
When it is deployed, Sentinel-2B will fly 180° opposite Sentinel-2A, with both spacecraft occupying Sun-synchronous orbits at an altitude of approximately 488 miles (786 km) and covering Earth’s land surfaces, large islands, inland and coastal waters between 84°N and 56°S every five days.
Both satellites have an operational design lifetime of 7.5 years with consumable propellants aboard for up to 12 years. They will provide high-resolution Earth observation services for ESA and provide data continuity for information that had been previously provided by SPOT-5 and Landsat 7.
Sentinel-2B is 11.2 feet (3.4 m) long, 5.9 feet (1.8 m) wide, and 7.7 feet (2.35 m) tall. The spacecraft has a gross mass of 2,513 pounds (1,140 kg), which includes 273 pounds (123 kg) of propellant. It will launch aboard a European Vega launch vehicle in March 2017.
“Copernicus, I think it’s safe to say, is the world’s best program for environmental monitoring, there’s nothing comparable in any other part of the world,” Aschbacher said.
To view more images of the Sentinel-2B spacecraft click here: Sentinel 2B
A native of the Netherlands, van Oene became ‘infected’ with the ‘space virus’ by an enthusiastic school teacher in 1981. Since 1994 he has been a freelance space photographer and writer for magazines and websites in Holland, Belgium and ‘Spaceflight’, the magazine of the British Interplanetary Society. van Oene is also the co-founder and CFO of SPACEPATCHES.NL. This Netherlands-based foundation currently produces all the official Soyuz crew patches for the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos.