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MetOp-A, European Meteorological Satellite


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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 01:06 PM

MetOp satellite shipped to Baikonur on 18 April

user posted image
The first MetOp meteorological satellite arrived on 18 April 2006 at its launch site,
the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on board an Antonov-124 transport plane.
MetOp-A is the first in a series of three polar orbiting satellites dedicated to operational
meteorology and climate studies.

Credits: ESA


19 April 2006
ESA PR 14-2006. The first MetOp meteorological satellite arrived yesterday at its launch site, the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, following shipment from the industrial prime contractor, EADS Astrium in Toulouse, on board an Antonov-124 transport plane.

MetOp-A is the first in a series of three EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) satellites developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) for EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.
After undergoing a mechanical and environmental test campaign, the spacecraft passed the acceptance review last year and the recent compatibility test between satellite and ground segment cleared the way for shipment of the satellite to Baikonur.  

user posted image
The first MetOp meteorological satellite arrived on 18 April 2006 at its launch site,
the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. MetOp-A is the first in a series of three polar
orbiting satellites dedicated to operational meteorology and climate studies.

Credits: EUMETSAT 2006

  
This shipment comprises a service module, a payload module and the solar array, including the electrical and mechanical ground support equipment needed for the launch campaign. The mission includes a total of 12 instruments developed in cooperation with French Space Agency, CNES, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

MetOp is scheduled for launch on 17 July 2006 at 22.28 Baikonur time (18.28 CEST) with the latest Soyuz ST Fregat launcher operated by Starsem.

user posted image

MetOp-A satellite undergoing final testing at EADS Astrium's
facilities in Toulouse.

Credits: EADS Astrium/photo C. Mériaux

  
MetOp is the first polar orbiting satellite dedicated to operational meteorology. The MetOp satellite services have been designed to provide global weather data until 2020. MetOp, which will fly at a height of about 837 km, promises, with its 12 sophisticated instruments, to provide data of unprecedented accuracy, thus improving global weather forecasting and providing enhanced climate monitoring capabilities.


Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 08:33 AM

June 16, 2006

MetOp-A is readied for its July flight on the upgraded Soyuz 2-1a launcher


Europe's MetOp-A polar-orbiting meteorological satellite is undergoing its checkout at Baikonur Cosmodrome in preparation for the spacecraft's July 17 launch on a Soyuz 2-1a mission performed by Arianespace's Starsem affiliate.

The upgraded Soyuz 2-1a launcher features a larger payload fairing along with improved launcher navigation accuracy and control capability. Equipped with an enlarged payload fairing 11.4-meters in length and 4.1 meters in diameter, the Soyuz 2-1a will be used beginning in 2008 for Soyuz missions performed from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana under Arianespace management.

The following photos detail MetOp-A's preparation at Baikonur Cosmodrome.


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user posted image
Pre-launch checkout of MetOp-A is being performed in Starsem's state-of-the-art payload preparation facilities at Baikonur Cosmodrome. With a launch mass of just over 4,000 kg., MetOp-A builds on the heritage gained with Europe's successful series of meteorological and Earth observation satellites. After its launch by the Soyuz 2-1a, the meteorological platform will operate from an altitude of about 837 km., contributing to global weather forecasting and providing enhanced climate monitoring capabilities.


user posted image
The Soyuz 2-1a's new payload fairing will accommodate the large MetOp-A satellite, which was built by EADS-Astrium, and carries a total of 12 instruments developed in cooperation with the French CNES national space agency and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


user posted image
MetOp-A's checkout has included inspection of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and the High resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS/4) - two instruments that were provided by NOAA. The AVHRR provides day and night imaging of land, water and clouds, measures sea surface temperature, ice, snow and vegetation cover. The HIRS is an atmospheric sounding instrument for measuring temperature profiles, moisture content, cloud height and surface albedo.

Photos: Courtesy of ESA/EUMETSAT


Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 17 July 2006 - 08:55 AM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#3    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 08:42 AM

MetOp – last phase of testing before launch

user posted image
AMSU-A1 is re-installed on MetOp. The photo shows the instrument in the top right position of the Payload Module, and the place for AMSU-A2 – yet to be installed - is easily recognizable by the metal surface without MLI.

Credits: ESA - K.Büchler


22 June 2006
Since the arrival of MetOp-A at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, preparations for the launch of Europe's first polar-orbiting weather satellite have been progressing well. With a little less than a month to go before MetOp lifts-off, the team of engineers and scientists look forward to the last phase of launch campaign activities.

MetOp is due for launch on 17 July 2006 at 18.29 (CEST) on a on a Soyuz/ST Fregat, operated by Starsem. The Soyuz rocket was first used in 1963 and has since launched more than 1700 times. A success rate of more than 97% makes it one of the most reliable launch vehicles in the world. The same launch pad will be used for MetOp as was used to put Yuri Gagarin, the first man into space, in 1961.  

user posted image
Installation of the solar array onto the satellite. After some preparatory activities regarding the thermal knives, the mechanical transport frame was fixed to the stack and brought by crane over to MetOp where it was mated to the satellite. Finally, the Solar Array Drive release was calibrated with the stack, and electrical measurements of pyrotechnical devices were performed. The operation went very smoothly.

Credits: ESA - K.Büchler


Before the MetOp satellite is installed on the launcher and rolled out to the launch pad, the final satellite integration and testing is being performed as part of the three-month long launch campaign. The MetOp satellite arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome mid-April and since then several milestones have been achieved.

user posted image
The solar array in final configuration for the launch. The deployment arm has been connected again, the hold-down points of the drive motor have been tensioned, hinges are adjusted, and the electrical checks after reconnection were successful. The completion of the solar array is an important step in the launch campaign and it is confirmed by a formal key point inspection. 24 May 2006.

Credits: ESA - K.Büchler

  
As part of the satellite re-assembly activities, two weeks were dedicated to the integration of the solar array. This is a lengthy process and the installation required extremely careful work to make sure that all the electrical and mechanical connections were correct. The completion of the solar array installation was marked by a final mini-deployment test, which demonstrated that the motors driving the mechanism that unfolds the array worked properly. The completion of this important activity was confirmed by a formal key-point inspection.

user posted image
Working on the AMSU-A2 instrument. A very important feature of MetOp with its many instruments is the ability to combine the results of one instrument with others. To this end we have to know precisely - and this means to fractions of a degree - the instrument's field of view relative to each other. To achieve this, first the instruments have to be aligned by a precise optical measurement, and then the mechanical fine-tuning is performed by carefully positioning thin aluminium foils on the instrument mounting-plane.

Credits: ESA - K.Büchler


In addition to the planned activities to re-assemble the satellite and subsequently verify the status of its functional health, it was necessary to swap the two AMSU (Advanced Microwave Sounding Units) instruments on-board. This was because some concerns about the quality of a few internal parts had been raised. The replacement instruments were urgently flown in from the U.S. After being exchanged, the instruments completed their testing programme and have been declared ready for flight. This has all been achieved without affecting the duration of the overall launch campaign.


An important exercise took place on 29 May - that being the first countdown rehearsal with ESA-ESOC and EUMETSAT in Darmstadt. The purpose of this procedure was to verify that all the communication links work correctly and that the countdown procedure is tested. There will be another rehearsal a few days before launch, which will include the launcher authorities.


The countdown was followed by the last combined system functional test between the satellite and ground segment, which confirmed the correctness of the operational procedures and the ability of the ground segment to command and control the satellite after the launch.


On 17 June, following the last activities of completing the satellite external thermal and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC), the satellite was pronounced ready to proceed with fuelling in the Hazardous Processing Facility (HPF). The fuelling, due to last until end of June, will be the last satellite “standalone” activity before mating to the Russian hardware and starting the “combined activities” with the rocket, leading to launch.

user posted image
Developed as a joint undertaking by the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, MetOp will be Europe's first polar-orbiting weather satellite. It also represents the European commitment to a new cooperative venture with the United States.

Credits: ESA - AOES Medialab


MetOp-A will be Europe's first polar-orbiting satellite dedicated to operational meteorology. With its array of sophisticated instruments, this weather satellite promises to provide data of unprecedented accuracy and resolution on a host of different atmospheric variables such as temperature and humidity, wind speed and direction over the ocean, ozone and concentrations of other trace gases; thus making a huge contribution to global weather forecasting and climate monitoring capabilities. In addition, MetOp-A carries instruments to observe land and ocean surfaces as well as search and rescue instruments to aid ships and aircraft in distress.


MetOp is a series of three satellites that will be launched sequentially to ensure the delivery of high-quality global meteorological data until at least 2020. The series has been developed as part of a joint undertaking between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), whereby MetOp forms the space segment of EUMETSAT's Polar System (EPS).


Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#4    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 08:50 AM

MetOp-A gets green light for 17 July launch date

user posted image
MetOp satellite in the Upper Composite Integration Facility (UCIF) before being moved to the Hazardous Processing Facility (HPF), where launch campaign activities will enter next phase.

Credits: ESA-K. Buchler


27 June 2006
MetOp-A has successfully completed the first phase of testing at the Baikonur Space Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, confirming the launch date of the first European polar-orbiting satellite dedicated to operational meteorology for 17 July 2006.

With an array of sophisticated instrumentation, MetOp-A – jointly established by ESA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) – promises to provide data of unprecedented accuracy and resolution on a host of different variables such as temperature and humidity, wind speed and direction, ozone and other trace gases.

user posted image
MetOp's Payload Module in the Upper Composite Integration Facility (UCIF) ‘clean room’ is waiting for integration and testing with the Service Module.

Credits: EUMETSAT 2006


Since the arrival of the MetOp-A satellite at its launch site in Baikonur on 18 April 2006, the Service Module, Payload Module and Solar Array, which were shipped as individual items, have been integrated and tested.
Following a review of the satellite status and results of the testing to date, together with the outputs of EUMETSAT’s review of the readiness of the ground segment, launcher and overall system, EUMETSAT and ESA authorised EADS Astrium on 17 June to commence the MetOp-A satellite fuelling activities, marking a milestone in the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) programme.

Following the completion of the MetOp-A fuelling, the satellite will be integrated with the so-called Fregat upper stage before being encapsulated in the fairing. The resulting upper composite will then be integrated with the Soyuz launcher and the complete system will be rolled out to the launch pad three days prior to the launch.

user posted image
MetOp-A will be launched on a Soyuz/ST Fregat rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 17 July 2006. The launcher consists of three stages, all of which use liquid oxygen and kerosene as fuel.

Credits: Starsem

  
The MetOp programme, which consists of three satellites to be flown sequentially to ensure the delivery of continuous data until at least 2020, forms the space segment of the EPS programme and represents the European contribution to a new cooperative venture with the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Until MetOp-A launches, meteorological data from polar-orbiting satellites has had to be procured from NOAA weather satellites. After the launch, responsibilities for meteorological satellite services will be shared between Europe and the United States.

Consequently, through the Initial Joint Polar Satellite System (IJPS), which is a cooperative venture between EUMETSAT and NOAA, MetOp-A has been designed to work in conjunction with the NOAA satellite system, whereby MetOp-A replaces the NOAA 'morning orbit' service whilst a NOAA satellite occupies the 'afternoon shift'.

This means that the two satellites fly in complementary orbits, thus offering maximum coverage. This global observing system is able to provide invaluable meteorological data from polar orbit to users within 2 hours and 15 minutes of the measurements being taken.

MetOp-A is equipped with a set of new-generation European instruments that offer advanced remote sensing capabilities to both meteorologists and climatologists along with a set of 'heritage' instruments provided by NOAA and the French Space Agency (CNES).

In addition to its meteorological observations and climate monitoring objectives, MetOp-A will contribute to other missions, such as research and rescue and the monitoring of charged particles present in the orbital environment near Earth.

The MetOp-A satellite was developed by a consortium of European companies led by the main contractor EADS-Astrium, France.


Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#5    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 08:55 AM

July 3, 2006

The improved Soyuz 2-1a launcher's new payload fairing is ready for flight


The Soyuz launcher's enlarged payload fairing is ready for its upcoming flight, which is planned July 17 with the MetOp-A meteorological satellite from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

This new fairing is part of the Soyuz 2-1a upgrade program for Russia's workhorse vehicle, which will join the Arianespace launcher family at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana in 2008.

The Soyuz 2-1a's upcoming mission with MetOp-A will be performed under the responsibility of Arianespace's Starsem affiliate. Our photos below provide a close-up look at the enlarged fairing, as well as the MetOp-A meteorological payload as the launch campaign progresses at Baikonur Cosmodrome.


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user posted image
The Soyuz 2-1a's new fairing is shown in Starsem's state-of-the-art processing facility at Baikonur Cosmodrome. The fairing has a length of 11.4 meters and an external diameter of 4.1 meters. During the July 17 launch, it will protect MetOp-A during the first five minutes of the mission.


user posted image
This rear view underscores the internal volume available with the new Soyuz payload fairing. Other upgrades for the improved Soyuz 2-1a include a digital flight control system, which enables the launcher to be flown with the larger fairing and provides additional mission flexibility for the vehicle.


user posted image
MetOp-A has a height of 6.3 meters and a width of 2.5 meters, easily allowing the satellite to be accommodated inside the new Soyuz payload fairing. With a liftoff mass of 4,085 kg., MetOp-A will improve Europe's meteorological observation capabilities and increase its capacity for weather forecasting and climate monitoring.


Source: Arianespace Mission Updates

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#6    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 09:01 AM

MetOp fuelled and pressurised

user posted image
After the tanks have been fuelled and pressurised MetOp leaves the Hazardous Processing Facility (HPF).

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


4 July 2006
Now that there is less than two weeks to go before launch, MetOp has just been fuelled and pressurised in the Hazardous Processing Facility (HPF) at the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan.

This marks an important milestone in the launch campaign and precedes the satellite being integrated with the Fregat upper-stage before being closed in the fairing. The encapsulated satellite and the Fregat upper-stage will then be integrated with the Soyuz launcher and rolled out to the launch pad – three days before launch.

user posted image
Special suits have to be worn for fuelling activites.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


The dangerous job of hydrazine fuelling took place on 27 June and was carefully monitored throughout, after which the system needed to stabilise overnight. The following day the system was pressurised and the go-ahead was given to switch the satellite on to check for any signs of damage. With everything in working order MetOp was transported back to the Upper Composite Integration Facility (UCIF) where it will be coupled with the Fregat upper-stage.

user posted image
Cleaning inside the fairing during MetOp launch campaign. After being integrated with the Fregat upper-stage, MetOp will be closed in the fairing and then integrated with the Soyuz launcher.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


While the fuelling was being carried out, the inner fairing was having its final clean. Inflatable mattresses were used to distribute the weight of the team working on these sensitive areas.
Since being fuelled MetOp has also had the clamp band pyro connection installed by specialists from EADS Astrium. The clamp band, which connects the satellite to the launch vehicle adapter, opens at the end of the launch ascent to release MetOp into its polar orbit around 800 km above the surface of the Earth.

user posted image
MetOp's launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Credits: C. Simpson


In addition, MetOp went through another functional test on 1 July. Activities have also been carried out on the Fregat, and now the engine is in wrapped in thermal multilayer insulation and all the red tags removed.

The launch campaign activities have all been carried out on schedule and with these milestones passed everything is on track for the launch on 17 July at 18.28 (CEST), 22.28 Baikonur time.


Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#7    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 09:06 AM

MetOp joins Fregat upper-stage

user posted image
MetOp being hoisted by crane and positioned over the Fregat upper-stage proir to mating.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


7 July 2006
A significant milestone has just been reached in the MetOp launch campaign as the delicate task of mating the spacecraft and the Fregat upper-stage engine was successfully carried out.

Prior to the mating on Wednesday, engineers worked to finish all the last tasks that had to be done to prepare for the event. Over the last few days the Fregat stand had been closed around the engine but as the two halves of the scaffolding were moved aside it could be seen on its large trolley.
MetOp was carefully hoisted up on a crane above the Fregat while the interface to the launch vehicle adapter-stand was opened. Once manoeuvred into the correct position, the spacecraft was lowered and the scaffolding closed again, so that work on the interface could be completed.

user posted image
MetOp joining the Fregat upper-stage.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


This week's activities have also included various link validations that were performed to the “catacomb”. This is the bunker located at the base of the launch pad where the umbilical racks are installed. During the launch there are no personnel there. The closest people will be in another bunker, located further some 250 metres away.

Now that MetOp and the upper-stage of the rocket are joined they will be prepared for encapsulation in the fairing. This means that the scientists and engineers will have to say 'goodbye' to MetOp as the fairing will not be opened again until the spacecraft has left the atmosphere on its way to final orbit deployment around 800 kilometres above the Earth. Encapsulation is planned for Saturday.


Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#8    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 09:12 AM

Europe to launch its first polar-orbiting weather satellite

user posted image
The MetOp series of three satellites will be Europe's first polar-orbiting missions dedicated to operational meteorology and represents the European commitment to a new venture with the United States. They will be launched sequentially providing data until at least 2020. The first, MetOp-A, is being launched on 17 July 2006 on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Credits: ESA - AOES Medialab


10 July 2006
ESA PR 26-2006. MetOp-A, the first member of a new family of European satellites designed to monitor the Earth’s atmosphere from low Earth orbit, is to be launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on 17 July.

It will complement Europe’s already highly successful Meteosat satellites in geostationary orbit and form part of an integrated system to be run with the USA to provide better weather and climate information.
The MetOp satellite series is a joint programme by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Meteorological Satellite Organisation (EUMETSAT), with the latter to operate the spacecraft once in orbit. These new satellites will form the space segment of the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) and probe the atmosphere with high accuracy from a sun-synchronous orbit. They will circle the globe from pole to pole at an altitude of about 817 km, collecting high- resolution data to complement the hemispheric survey of the atmosphere conducted from geostationary orbit by the Meteosat system.

These new European satellites will be operated in partnership with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar weather satellite system, providing data that will be used to monitor the planet’s climate and improve weather forecasting. NOAA satellites will operate the 'afternoon shift' (i.e. cross the equator in the afternoon, local time), with Europe’s MetOp taking over the 'morning orbit' service.

The MetOp spacecraft have been developed and built by an industrial team led by EADS Astrium in Toulouse, France. Three flight models have been ordered and essentially completed, and will be launched sequentially in order to ensure continuous data delivery up to the 2020 timeframe. Each satellite is 6.5-m high and weighs about 4 tonnes at launch. MetOp-A, the first spacecraft in the series, is carrying 11 instruments, many of which are highly complementary.

user posted image
Marking a significant technological step forward, IASI will provide meteorologists with data of unprecedented accuracy and resolution on atmospheric temperature and humidity with which to improve weather prediction.

Credits: ESA - AOES Medialab


This payload includes a new generation of European instruments – provided by ESA, Eumetsat, and the French Space Agency (CNES) – to deliver improved remote-sensing capabilities to both meteorologists and climatologists. The IASI spectrometer will provide highly accurate temperature and humidity profile measurements, the Gome-2 spectrometer will probe the atmosphere for ozone and trace gas concentrations, the Ascat scatterometer will measure wind speed and direction on the ocean surface, and the Gras payload will provide atmospheric profiles using the occultation of radio signals from GPS satellites. The MHS instrument, replacing the AMSU-B instrument carried on previous US satellites, will give microwave measurements of humidity.

In addition, the satellite incorporates a set of 'heritage' instruments provided by the USA: the AVHRR radiometer for global imagery, the AMSU-A microwave sounder, the HIRS infrared sounder, an advanced Argos data collection system, a Search & Rescue package and the SEM-2 spectrometer to monitor charged particle flux in space, or so-called 'space weather'.

user posted image
MetOp-A is currently in Baikonur, undergoing final preparation.

Credits: C. Simpson


The first MetOp satellite is currently in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, where it is undergoing final preparation before its launch onboard a Russian Soyuz ST/Fregat vehicle on 17 July. Lift-off is scheduled for 18:28 CEST (16:28 GMT).

ESA TV will provide a live transmission of the launch from three locations: ESOC, Eumetsat Headquarters, and the Baikonour Cosmodrome. It will be available on two satellite channels, one for the general public on Hot Bird (for details, see http:://television.esa.int/photos/Eutelsat4.pdf) and the other for broadcasters on Eutelsat W2. There will also be a clean feed of lift-off images from Baikonur (for details of both, see http://television.esa.int
, as from 14 July).

You can follow the launch events via a dedicated website at: http://www.esa.int/metop

Source: ESA - News

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 17 July 2006 - 09:46 AM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#9    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 09:27 AM

Launch milestone - last-ever look at MetOp

user posted image
MetOp ready to be sealed inside the fairing.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


11 July 2006
As preparations for the launch of MetOp on 17 July continue on schedule, engineers said farewell to the satellite as it was sealed inside the rocket fairing at the weekend.

The fairing will not be opened again until just under five minutes after launch when the spacecraft is almost 200 km above the surface of the Earth. At this phase of the launch the two half-shells will open and separate from the stage-3 of the launcher, the Fregat upper-stage and the MetOp satellite. Soon after, the stage-3 will separate from the Fregat-MetOp composite, which will continue its journey to the final orbital altitude of about 800 km.

user posted image
Some last preparations are made before the MetOp satellite is enclosed in the fairing.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


Marking a significant milestone in the launch campaign, the encapsulation procedure required great care and precision assembly. First, the MetOp satellite, which had already been joined to the Fregat upper-stage last Wednesday, was manoeuvred into a horizontal position in front of the fairing.
The design of the fairing has recently been enlarged for the upgraded Soyuz launch vehicle and will be used for the first time for the launch of MetOp. Protecting the satellite against aerodynamic forces for the first 4 minutes and 49 seconds of the mission, it measures 11.4 metres in length and has an external diameter of 4.1 meters.

user posted image
The fairing is moved to encapsulate MetOp.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


The encapsulation procedure involves the gentle movement of the fairing, which is mounted on rails, centimetre by centimetre so that it eventually engulfs the MetOp satellite and the Fregat upper-stage. Engineers check progress every step of the way to ensure that the procedure, which takes about an hour, is carried out smoothly.

user posted image
Tightening the bolts after MetOp has been encapsulated in the fairing.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


Once the MetOp/Fregat was inside the fairing, the bolts were tightened and the remaining openings were firmly shut and sealing the satellite from the outside world, becoming part of the so-called 'upper composite'.

Peter Edwards, ESA's MetOp Project Manager stated, "I am very satisfied with the launch campaign activities, which have all gone smoothly. Everything has been performed according to plan and to schedule and we are looking forward to the launch in less than one week".

With the success of the encapsulation procedure at the weekend, the remainder of the launch campaign activities now rest with Starsem and the Russian launcher engineers who prepare the Soyuz-ST Fregat launcher. The next steps include integration of the upper-composite with the launch vehicle, the formal confirmation that everything is ready for launch, and then on Friday 14 July the transfer to the launch pad in readiness for launch on Monday 17 July at 18.28 (CEST), 22.28 Baikonur time.


Source: ESA - News

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 17 July 2006 - 09:39 AM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#10    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 09:53 AM

ESOC flight controllers ready for MetOp launch

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MetOp flight controllers in simulation training for LEOP, the launch and early operations phase, at ESOC, 7 July 2006.

Credits: ESA-D.Scuka


12 July 2006
Flight controllers at ESOC, ESA's Space Operations Centre, are continuing training for LEOP, the launch and early orbit phase, in preparation for MetOp's 17 July start.

"The aim of our simulation campaign is to train the flight control teams to react to any unexpected situation. We started in March with two simulations per week and until a few days ago, we were very busy finalising the flight procedures to be used for monitoring and controlling the spacecraft. Now we have entered LEOP freeze," Pier Bargellini, Spacecraft Operations Manager (SOM) for the 'B' team, said.
'LEOP freeze' is the period immediately before launch when mission control software and flight operation procedures are fixed so as not to inadvertently introduce errors.

ESOC is providing LEOP control services to MetOp's eventual owner, EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), as a contracted service and will hand control over to EUMESAT for instrument commissioning and then routine operations at the end of LEOP, scheduled for 20 July.

MetOp is formally 'MetOp-A', the first in a series of three satellites, and will be launched on a Soyuz from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.  

Critical activities during launch and early orbit phase

The multinational flight control team is split into 'A' and 'B' shifts to provide 24-hour-per-day operations during the high-stress launch and early orbit phase, when critical mission activities must take place at the right time and in the correct sequence.

These include confirming separation from the launcher, deploying the solar array and powering up onboard systems.

The flight control team includes 15 ESA staff and contractors working directly on MetOp-A, who are supported by additional ESOC experts in functional areas such as software support, flight dynamics and ground station control.

During some simulations, ESOC personnel have also been joined by representatives from EUMETSAT, the project team at ESTEC, who were responsible for satellite development, and from the satellite's prime contractor, EADS-Astrium.

user posted image
The ESA ground station at Maspalomas, Canary Islands, is located in the southern part of the Gran Canaria island on the campus of the Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aerospacial (INTA). The antenna is operated by INTA in cooperation with Ingenieria y Servicios Aerospatiales (INSA).

Due, in part, to MetOp's planned polar orbit, a larger-than-usual set of ground stations will be involved in LEOP, including Kerguelen, Malindi, Esrange, Alaska, Hawaii, Svalbard and Maspalomas; of these, the Maspalomas station is part of ESA's worldwide ESTRACK ground tracking station network, while the others are cooperating stations operated by other agencies.

Svalbard, Norway, is home to the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) Command and Data Acquisition station, to which data from MetOp will be transmitted during routine operation.

Launch set for 17 July, 18:28 CEST

user posted image
Sunset over the launch pad at Baikonur in Kazakhstan

Credits: ESA-S.Corvaja


ESOC, home to ESA's operations directorate, is well known in the space community as a centre of excellence for satellite control and in particular for LEOP operations.

"We start our work some 16 hours before launch, monitoring the long series of activities at Baikonur as they get the Soyuz and MetOp-A ready to launch. We actually assume control one hour and eight minutes after lift-off once the spacecraft has separated from the launcher; we will be very busy as MetOp is a complex satellite," says Bargellini.

For MetOp, controllers will be watching very carefully throughout LEOP, but particularly at certain key steps. Support cables that keep the solar array tightly folded must be released, and then the array must properly deploy via activation of four electrical motors. Later, pyrotechnic charges will fire to unlock other onboard units.  

Many of these steps are automated and executed by onboard software, but controllers must monitor and be ready to react in case of any problems. "Until the solar array deploys, we're running on batteries, and they're only designed to last a short time," said Bargellini.

On the second and subsequent days of LEOP, several payload antennas must be deployed, which Bargellini says is "a complicated and critical operation," and orbit correction manoeuvres will take place using MetOp's onboard thrusters.

In addition to Bargellini's B flight control team, MetOp LEOP will be controlled by the A team under Spacecraft Operations Manager Francois Bosquillon de Frescheville.

The two teams' activities will be overseen by a pair of expert flight directors, with John Dodsworth assigned to the A team shift and Andreas Rudolph assigned to the B team shift.


Months of preparation for flight control team

All ESOC personnel involved in MetOp are looking forward to launch as the culmination of months of preparation, which have included long hours in ESOC's Main Control Room during LEOP simulations and diligent work to build teamwork and cohesion from an international group of individuals.


The MetOp programme's series of three satellites is being designed and developed by ESA in partnership with EUMETSAT, and forms the space segment of EUMETSAT's Polar System (EPS).

According to the co-operation agreement between ESA and EUMETSAT, ESA is responsible for the development of the space segment and EUMETSAT for the overall system, including the launch services, the ground segment and the operations for the duration of the mission.


Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#11    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 09:54 AM

Upper-composite transferred to launcher integration facility

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The upper-composite is moved out of the Upper-Composite Integration Facility on rails.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


14 July 2006
Following the encapsulation of MetOp and the Fregat upper-stage in the fairing a few days ago, the so-called 'upper-composite' has taken the overnight train journey to the Soyuz launcher preparation facility to be integrated onto the launcher before the complete structure is rolled-out to the launch pad today.

In preparation for the six-hour journey, the upper-composite was hermetically sealed and moved out of the Upper Composite Integration Facility (UCIF). In the outer hall it was lifted by crane and transferred to the train, which is a particularly dangerous procedure as both MetOp and Fregat are fuelled.

user posted image
The upper-composite is lifted onto the train for the journey to the Soyuz launcher preparation facility.

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


Once the structure was safely loaded onto the train safety restrictions were relaxed and the engineers could take a look at the precious cargo perched on the wagon.
After ensuring that the thermal conditioning system was in order, the train left MIK 112 late evening on Monday 10 July. As the train is not allowed to go more than 10 km/h the journey took all night to reach the Soyuz launcher preparation facility.

During the entire journey it was escorted by an ambulance and a fire engine, which drove along a road by the side of the train track, as well as by two MetOp team members who rode on the train to check on the actual environment.

user posted image
Mating the upper-composite (right) with the Soyuz third-stage (left)

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


By morning the convoy had reached MIK40 close to the launch pad. Here the upper-composite was off-loaded by crane and placed in front of the Soyuz third-stage. By the end of Tuesday 11 July the upper-composite had been mated with the third-stage. The expertise with which this was carried out was very impressive, demonstrating the benefit that has been gained over more than 1700 Soyuz launches.

The fully assembled launcher will be rolled-out on Friday and erected on the launch tower, to be ready for launch on Monday 17 July.


Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#12    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 12:52 PM

MetOp ready for launch

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Roll-out to the launch pad

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


17 July 2006
Following the roll-out to the launch pad and final countdown rehearsal at the weekend, MetOp is ready for launch at 18:28 CEST today. The launch of Europe's first polar-orbiting weather satellite is set to make a major contribution to global weather forecasting and climate monitoring.
For latest news see: http://www.esa.int/metop


The roll-out to the pad and erection of the Soyuz rocket at the launch tower took place on Friday 14 July. The whole procedure took less than three hours to complete. Carried by train, the launcher left the hall where the upper-composite had been integrated with the third-stage of the Soyuz launch vehicle last week.  

The train slowly pulled the ensemble over to the nearby launch pad – a spectacular view for the engineers who have been working on the launch campaign over the last months.

user posted image
Erection of the Soyuz rocket at the launch tower

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


A second train pushed the erector into place at the launch pad, which carefully lifted the launcher into vertical position with the aid of a massive hydraulic ram. The precision and speed with which this exercise was carried out was very impressive and after only a short time the launcher was safely in position with the support arms attached and the erector could be removed. At the same time, the two sections of the service tower were closed and the umbilical arms are lifted into place.

The rest of the day was dedicated to checking that all the electrical, mechanical and thermal connections were are correct. With everything in working order, the final countdown rehearsal took place on Saturday and was carried out without major incident, but allowed sorting-out some minor issues.

user posted image
The arms are closing

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


With MetOp's array of sophisticated instrumentation, the launch today will mark a significant step forward in global operational meteorology and improve our understanding of atmospheric process and climate change.

MetOp-A is the first in a series of three being developed as part of a joint undertaking between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), whereby MetOp forms the space segment of EUMETSAT's Polar System (EPS).

user posted image
The tower is closed - MetOp is ready for launch

Credits: ESA - K. Büchler


ESA is responsible for the satellite development and procurement and EUMETSAT takes responsibility for the operational system. With the follow-on satellites MetOp-B and –C, scheduled to launch 4.4 years apart, the programme promises to provide operational meteorological data until 2020.

In addition, MetOp is the European contribution to a new cooperative venture with the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Initial Joint Polar Satellite System where MetOp flies in a 'morning orbit' and the complementary NOAA satellite flies in the 'afternoon orbit'.

This global observing system is able to provide invaluable meteorological data from polar orbit to users within 2 hours and 15 minutes of the measurements being taken and global coverage within six hours.

Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#13    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 06:38 PM

MetOp launch delayed

During final preparations for the launch of MetOp by a Soyuz-Fregat launcher, a problem was discovered, triggering a countdown halt. A team of European and Russian technicians is presently investigating the issue. The Soyuz launcher is being defuelled and more information from Starsem, the launch authority, is expected to become available on Tuesday morning. The next launch opportunities are Tuesday, 18 July, and Wednesday, 19 July.

Source: ESA - MetOp

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#14    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 07:20 AM

Status at 10 h before launch. Launch count down restarts for a launch at 18:28 CEST (16:28 UT, 22:28 Baikonur local time). The launch abort on 17 July has been diagnosed as due to an incorrect parameter in a ground test procedure to provide final calibration verification of the inertial platform. The error has been corrected and verified on a reference platform, then tested OK on MetOp launcher vehicle. A full dry run retest of launcher with simulated launch time of 14:30 local is in progress. Confirmation will be provided at 11:00 CEST (15:00 local time) after which the launcher countdown will then enter normal sequence. Meanwhile the satellite preparation has started and weather conditions are good.

Source: ESA - MetOp

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#15    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 12:14 PM

Russian State Commission gives go ahead for MetOp launch tonight

After some retests of the launcher, the Russian State Commission has confirmed the launch of MetOp at 18:28 CEST tonight. Spacecraft, launcher and ESOC are 'green' for launch and weather conditions remain good.

Source: ESA - MetOp

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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