Airbus Defence and Space

Two ‘Earth sentinels’ to be launched by Rockot

Eurockot selected by ESA

Eurockot Launch Services GmbH, the Bremen-based joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and the Khrunichev Space Centre, added a further two European Space Agency (ESA) launch contracts to its order book on 9 February.

The company is to use two separate Rockot launch vehicles to insert the Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-3A satellites for the European GMES programme (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) into low Earth orbit from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The first lift-off is planned for late 2013. ESA selected Eurockot as the launch service provider following an international invitation to tender.

The contracts were signed by Professor Volker Liebig, Director Earth Observation Programmes, ESA, and Dr Matthias Oehm, Chief Executive Officer, Eurockot Launch Services GmbH, at midday today, in the presence of Mr Martin Günthner, Bremen’s Senator for Economics, Labour and Ports and Mr Alain Charmeau, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space.

GMES is the satellite-based Earth observation programme being jointly implemented by the European Commission and ESA. The Sentinel satellites developed for the programme are designed to gather accurate and timely data and thus provide key geo-information services to improve the way the global environment is managed. The programme’s primary areas of focus include observation of the Earth’s land mass and marine environment, monitoring of the atmosphere and climate change, and improved crisis management in the event of natural disasters. GMES will comprise the Sentinel 1 to 5 missions, each of which will consist of two identical satellites (A and B). The programme is scheduled to commence operations in 2014.

GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is the European satellite-based Earth observation programme

Sentinel-2A is being built by Airbus Defence and Space and will provide high-resolution optical images for Earth observation purposes. These images will be used in various applications, including land-use monitoring, cartography, forest surveillance, natural-disaster monitoring and humanitarian relief work.

Sentinel-2A, being built by Airbus Defence and Space, will support environmental and security applications within the GMES programme

Sentinel-3A will provide medium-resolution images for oceanographic and vegetation monitoring purposes and is being manufactured by Thales Alenia Space.

Eurockot is scheduled to perform the joint launch of ESA’s three Airbus Defence and Space-built Swarm satellites in 2012. And in 2014, ESA intends to carry out another mission using the Rockot launch vehicle, the payload for which will be defined later this year.

Eurockot Launch Services GmbH is the Bremen-based joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space (holding 51%) and the Khrunichev Space Centre (holding 49%). The company provides low Earth orbit launch services to operators of Earth observation and scientific satellites from its launch site at Plesetsk Cosmodrome, where it blasts off one or two Rockot launch vehicles every year.

Eurockot’s customers include the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the Canadian Space Agency, national space research institutes in Korea and Japan, and ESA, for which the company has already successfully launched three satellites.

[Eurockot press release]