The third ESA-developed satellite carrying four Earth-observing instruments was launched today, ready to provide a ‘bigger picture’ for Europe’s Copernicus environment programme.The 1150 kg Sentinel-3A satellite was carried into orbit on a Rockot launcher from Plesetsk, Russia, at 17:57 GMT (18:57 CET; 20:57 local time) on 16 February.
After a first burn starting about five minutes after liftoff and a second about 70 min later, Rockot’s upper stage delivered Sentinel-3A into its planned orbit, 815 km above Earth. The satellite separated 79 min into the flight.
The first signal from Sentinel-3A was received after 92 min by the Kiruna station in Sweden. Telemetry links and attitude control were then established by controllers at ESA’s ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, allowing them to monitor the health of the satellite.
After the launch and the early orbit phase of three days, controllers will begin checking that all the satellite elements are working and subsequently calibrate the instruments to commission the satellite. The mission is expected to begin operations in five months.
“With the successful launch of Sentinel-3 we are now looking forward to how our teams of experts will steer this mission into its operational life – like they have done ...