Airbus Defence and Space

Sentinel-2B: Airbus Defence and Space wins new contract worth €105 million

  • Sentinel-2 gives Europe new space-based tool for regional planning, disaster control and agriculture management

  • Sentinel-2 supports environmental and security applications within the GMES* programme


Friedrichshafen, 31 March 2010 – European space leader Airbus Defence and Space has notched up another success in the field of Earth observation satellite construction. The company has been commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) to build the Sentinel-2B optical satellite, the next flight unit in the Sentinel series. The two parties signed the industrial contract, worth €105 million, today. Following on from the Sentinel-2A contract that was signed in spring 2008, this latest show of confidence brings the total revenue generated for Airbus Defence and Space by the Sentinel-2 programme to approximately €323 million.


“The Sentinel-2 satellites are an important element of the GMES programme and will give Europe the ability to monitor environmental changes in the region over an extended period of time,” said Prof. Dr. Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation at ESA. “The GMES programme is unique in the world. The Sentinel-2 missions will provide the level of geographical coverage demanded by users and simultaneously guarantee long-term data availability.”


Evert Dudok, CEO Airbus Defence and Space, added: Airbus Defence and Space is a leading innovator in the development of Earth observation satellites, as proven by the Envisat, Metop and TerraSAR-X programmes. We provide ESA and the GMES programme with high-tech solutions for extensive data collection. This data is subsequently used for regional planning, agriculture and forest management, disaster control and humanitarian relief operations. Sentinel-2 will also be able to observe natural disasters such as floods, volcanic eruptions and landslides.


Within the Sentinel-2 programme, Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for the satellites’ overall system design, multi-spectral instrument (MSI) and platform, as well as for satellite integration and testing. The company is also providing high-precision attitude control sensors and a state-of-the-art data storage system. It is additionally responsible for the mechanical satellite structure and the propulsion system, as well as manufacturing the thermal equipment and cable harness. The Sentinel-2 programme involves Airbus Defence and Space sites in Germany (System design, Integration & Test), France (Instrument) and Spain (Satellite structure).


Each Sentinel-2 satellite is intended to spend a minimum of 7.25 years in orbit observing the Earth’s land masses. The satellites’ resources are specifically designed to ensure their mission can be extended by a further five years if required. They weigh around 1,100 kg and will be launched into a 786 km polar sun-synchronous orbit in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Their 13-channel multi-spectral instrument (MSI) generates optical images in the visible and short-wave infrared bands and boasts a resolution of down to 10 m and a swath width of 290 km.


When fully operational, the pair of Sentinel-2 satellites will be able to cover all of the Earth’s land masses in five-day cycles, sending back data and images for a duration of at least 15 years.


*About GMES

GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is an EU-led initiative and ESA is responsible for developing and implementing its space component. The programme aims at continuously monitoring the Earth using ground and space-based sensors, in order to provide governments and experts with up-to-date information to support wide-ranging policy decisions on the environment, the economy, transport and security.


The objective is to integrate all the various geoscientific and Earth observation activities currently undertaken in Europe. Firstly, by making the most efficient use possible of existing ground and satellite-based systems and their data, and secondly, by setting up sustainable operational systems specifically tailored to this range of tasks. The Sentinel satellite series will work in tandem with a wide range of European national satellite missions and together they will make up the dedicated space component of the GMES programme in Europe.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2009, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover of €4.8 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment and Airbus Defence and Space for the development and provision of secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, geo-information products and services, and navigation services.


AIRBUS Group is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, AIRBUS Group generated revenues of €42.8 billion and employed a workforce of more than 119, 000.


Press contacts:

Mathias Pikelj (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                        Phone: +49 (0) 7545 8 9123

Matthieu Duvelleroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                   Phone: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32

Daniel Mosely (Airbus Defence and Space GB)                                          Phone: +44 (0)1 438 77 8180

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                     Phone: +34 (0) 91 586 37 41


Sentinel-2 at a glance



Total mission duration:                    15 years

Service life in orbit:                          nominally 7.25 years

(optional extension for a further 5 years)

Orbit:                                                 786 km, polar, sun-synchronous

Observation area:                            from -56° to +84° latitude

Revisit frequency:                            5 days

Planned launch dates:                     2013 / 2015



Satellite type:                                    3-axis stabilised, Earth-oriented

Launch mass:                                   1,100 kg

Dimensions:                                     3.4 m x 1.8 m x 2.35 m

Solar generator:                               8.6 m², 2170 W, GaAs solar cells

Data storage:                                    2.4 Tbit of mission data



Multi-spectral instrument (MSI):      13 spectral bands,

VNIR & SWIR (443 nm - 2190 nm)

Resolution:                                        10, 20 and 60 m

Swath width:                                     290 km

Max. data capture time per orbit:   40 min


Airbus Defence and SpaceEarth ObservationEnvironmentSatelliteGMES