Double success of ESA: Italian Vega launch vehicle manufactured by Avio delivered to orbit Sentinel-2B satellite, which will operate under Copernicus program. To remind – it is one of the key ESA program which should result in establishing independent access to remote sensing satellites for European Union.
Third success of Arianespace in 2017 ! Company managed to send to orbit satellite created for European Space Agency by Astrium under contract signed in April 2008 and worth €195 million. Sentinel-2B is second from planned four spacecrafts from “2” series. Satellite was built with utilization of AstroBus in L variant with planned 7 year orbital life, mass of 1130 kg and operating from 786 km SSO orbit. Satellite was equipped with MultiSpectral Imager MSI, extremely precise imaging device operating on 13 channels from the visible into the infrared. Device will be able to take pictures of area wide for 290 km with resolution from 10 to 60 m between 56° South and 84° North.
Countdown before launch started nine hours earlier on Monday, 6th, 2017. Launch was planned for 01:49 UTC on Tuesday. After tests of launch vehicle and spacecraft , both were revealed three hours before launch. At T-4′ Vega switched into internal power and punctually at 01:49:24 UTC first from four stages ignited at ZLV Launch Pad. P80 is solid fueled construction with engine providing thrust at 2261 kN. It is long for 11.7 m and burns 88 t of HTPB. It was operating until T+1’55”, when it separated from Zefiro-23 second stage. Shorter and more narrow than P80, Zefiro is long for 8.39 m and diameter of 1.9 m it weighs only 2850 kg. It provided 871 kN of thrust burning 26 t of HTPB until T+3’39”, when Zefiro-9 third stage separated and ignited its solid fueled motor providing 260 kN of thrust and burning 9 t of HTPB. Zefiro-9 is long for 4.12 m with same diameter as Zefiro-23 (1.9 m) and weighs 1315 kg; rocket deployed payload fairing at T+3’44”. Almost three minutes later it was separated precisely at T+6’36”. AVUM (Attitude Vernier Upper Module) upper stage separated from Zefiro-9 and ignited its single RD-843 engine fueled with 550 kg of UDMH/N2O4 for seven minutes (RD-843 is able to deliver 2.42 kN). Second burn was performed at T+55; and lasted for only 120 seconds. At T+57′ Sentinel-2B was separated and few minutes later it sent first report confirming good condition after launch.
Sentinel-2B will go through many tests in following days. After that it will start its journey to opposite orbital position to Sentinel-2A, which was launched in 2015. It will be commissioned and it will start service within next few months.