Next Ariane 5 launch cleared

by Chris Bergin

Arianespace’s Ariane 5 G will be in action on December 21, following official clearance to go ahead with the launch of the Meteosat Second Generation spacecraft (MSG-2) – Europe’s newest meteorological satellite.

The go-head was granted after engineers confirmed the November 16 launch of an Ariane 5 ECA on Flight 167 went to plan, with no outstanding issues with the vehicle.

The launch of the Ariane 5 G will also place the INSAT 4A – a telecommunications satellite – into orbit for the Indian Space Research Organisation

The MSG-2 has spent 117 days being stored at the European spaceport in French Guiana. Work began on de-storing and preparing the second Meteosat Second Generation (MSG-2) spacecraft for flight on 31 October. MSG-2 launch campaign activities were officially re-started on 10 November.

MSG-2 had been shipped to Europe’s spaceport on 21 June. It was placed in storage following extensive testing confirmed the functionality of the platform and instruments following transport.

‘The larger, more powerful Meteosat Second Generation design takes images at more wavelengths and at shorter intervals than its parents, making it particularly suitable for short-term forecasting of sudden troublesome weather phenomena, such as snow, thunderstorms and fog,’ noted an ESA (European Space Agency) release,

‘The first of these (launched as MSG-1, since renamed Meteosat-8) was launched in August 2002 and declared operational in January 2004. With the launch of MSG-2, two MSG satellites will be functional in geostationary orbit, the operational one being at 0 degrees longitude which is above equatorial West Africa, the other being on stand-by with 10 degrees of separation, to ensure continuity of service into the future.

‘European weather forecasters plus climate and environment researchers are already benefiting from the advanced products and images provided by Meteosat-8. The data generated by its 12 spectral channels provide 20 times the information of its predecessors.

‘EUMETSAT is currently operating Meteosat-6, Meteosat-7 and -8 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-5 over the Indian Ocean. The data, products and services from these satellites developed by ESA for EUMETSAT – make a significant contribution to weather forecasting and the monitoring of climate change.’

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