Arianespace has successfully launched the Metop-C satellite for EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.
Arianespace’s eighth launch of the year, and the second using a Soyuz rocket, took place on Tuesday, November 6 at 9:47 p.m. (local time) from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).
With the launch of this third and final satellite of the current-generation EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS), Arianespace once again supports both EUMETSAT and Europe in improving weather forecasts and monitoring the global climate for a better life on Earth.
Metop-C joins Europe’s Metop polar satellite system, a flagship program for meteorology and climate monitoring
EUMETSAT is tasked with supplying meteorological and climate data to European member-states, as well as to international partners and users, while also contributing to the long-term study of climate change.
Placed in polar orbit, the three Metop satellites play a crucial role in numerical weather prediction from 12 hours to 10 days in advance. The still-operational Metop-A and Metop–B satellites, launched by Starsem from Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2006 and 2012, make the biggest single contribution to the accuracy of weather forecasts. Metop-C will enhance and expand these capabilities.
The EUMETSAT Polar System is Europe’s contribution to the Joint Polar System, shared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States. As with the two previous satellites – Metop-A and -B – Metop-C will be positioned in a “mid-morning” sun-synchronous polar orbit to enable the global observation of weather, oceans, land surfaces and the atmosphere’s composition. These observations complement those collected by NOAA’s JPSS satellites, which fly in “afternoon” orbits.
Metop-C also is essential to ensuring a smooth transition to the upcoming EUMETSAT Polar System – Second Generation (EPS-SG). The first EPS-SG satellite is scheduled for launch in 2022.
Arianespace at the service of EUMETSAT
Metop-C is the 13th European meteorological satellite launched by Arianespace. All EUMETSAT satellites to date have been launched by Arianespace, which still has the next generation of EUMETSAT satellites in its order book: Metop-SG A1 and B1 into polar orbit, and MTG-I1 and MTG-S1 into geostationary orbit.
2018, a busy year for institutional launches
Metop-C is the 163rd institutional satellite orbited by Arianespace for its European partners.
Today’s launch was the eighth since the beginning of 2018. Half of these missions were performed for the commercial market, while the other half were for European institutions: the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission, and EUMETSAT. Arianespace thereby reaffirms its dual mission: guaranteeing independent and reliable access to space for Europe, while also winning export contracts.
CSG gearing up for three more Soyuz launches
Today’s launch marked the 19th mission by the Soyuz medium launcher since it started operating at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in 2011, and its second mission in 2018. It also is the first of a series of four flights by Soyuz from now through March 2019 to be launched from CSG. Shortened and optimized, the launch campaigns use the Fregat Fueling Facility (FCube), a building inaugurated in 2015 that is dedicated to the Fregat upper stage on the Soyuz launch vehicle.
Shortly after the announcement of the satellite’s orbital injection, Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, said: “On our eighth launch of the year from the CSG, Soyuz accomplished its mission by orbiting Metop-C. We are delighted that EUMETSAT has renewed its trust in us to round out Europe’s meteorological capabilities from the poles, and thus improve its forecasting models. We are now gearing up to deploy the next generation of EUMETSAT satellites, reflecting our close partnership and our primary mission of ensuring reliable and guaranteed access to space for Europe to help make life better on Earth.
“I would like to congratulate Airbus Defence and Space, prime contractor for the Metop-C satellite, as well as the Russian space agency Roscosmos, for their continued commitment to our partnership based on Soyuz and for the exceptional versatility offered by this launcher. My thanks also go to CNES/CSG, our ground segment companies and all staff at the space center, who work with us as we go from success to success. Congratulations to everybody at Arianespace, who contributed to this latest perfect launch – the 19th Soyuz mission from Europe’s Spaceport.”