Soyuz ST Fregat / MetOp-A – Scrubbed

by Chris Bergin

The European Space Agency (ESA) MetOp-A (Meteorological Operational satellite programme) satellite has failed to launch for a third time, following a scrub at T-2m 19 secs.

The launch was sent to lift off – on top of a Soyuz ST Fregat – this evening, but was scrubbed due to a Soyuz ground support system failure, which has led to a rollback of the vehicle and a two month delay.


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Official delay notice:

‘After the difficulties encountered during multiple attempts to launch the MetOp-A satellite on the Soyuz/ST launcher, Starsem and its Russian partners – in agreement with Eumetsat and ESA – have decided to suspend launch operations,’ stated an ESA release.

The launch vehicle and its satellite will be returned to the launcher integration facility (MIK).

In parallel, a new operations plan is to be established in order to determine the new launch date.’

Launch information:

The launch has been delayed twice, due to problems during the loading of propellants into the Soyuz Fregat. Another problem on Tuesday, this time with a booster, moved the launch to Wednesday – with the launch cleared to proceed during Wednesday afternoon.

The showcase launch is the opening salvo of a European undertaking to provide weather data services that will be used to monitor climate and improve weather forecasts. 

MetOp-A will be launched to a Sun-synchronous orbit, 98.7 degrees to the Equator.

The MetOp programme’s series of three satellites has been jointly established by ESA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), forming the space segment of EUMETSAT’s Polar System (EPS). Services will be shared between the US and Europe.

The main objective of the MetOp mission is to ensure the continuous and improved availability of operational meteorological observations from polar orbit whilst providing Europe with an enhanced capability for the routine observation of the Earth from space, and in particular, to further increase Europe’s capability for long-term climate monitoring.

nullThe Soyuz/ST Fregat rocket is integrated at TsSKB-PROGRESS in Samara, Russia – and has been in service since November 1963 – with a superb launch record of 97 percent from 1650 launches.

The launcher procurement is undertaken under EUMETSAT responsibility, through Starsem, who provide both the technical interface and offer state of the art integration facilities at the launch site, the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Fregat is a fourth stage which has been under development by NPO Lavotchkin since 1992.

The MetOp satellite services have been designed to provide global weather data until 2020. The mission includes a total of 12 instruments developed in cooperation with French Space Agency, CNES, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

On Board Instruments: Source ESA.

AMSU-A1 and A2 (Advanced Microwave Sounding Units) to calculate atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles.
GRAS (Global Navigation Satellite System Receiver for Atmospheric Sounding) to measure atmospheric temperature and humidity.
HIRS/4 (High-resolution Infrared Sounder) to calculate atmospheric temperature and pressure.
IASI (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer) to measure atmospheric temperature and moisture, and trace gases such as ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, methane.
MHS (Microwave Humidity Sounder) to measure atmospheric humidity and temperature.
AVHRR/3 (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) provides day and night imaging of land, water, clouds.
ASCAT (Advanced Scatterometer) to measure wind vectors over the ocean.
GOME-2 (Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2) to measure concentrations of atmospheric ozone and other gases.
A-DCS (Advanced Data Collection System) provides in-situ environmental data collection and Doppler-derived location service.
SARP-3 (Search And Rescue Processor) receives and processes emergency signals from aircraft and ships in distress.
SARR (Search And Rescue Repeater) receives and downlinks emergency signals from aircraft and ships in distress and provides a downlink for data received by the SARP-3.
SEM-2 (Space Environment Monitor) provides measurements to determine the intensity of the Earth’s radiation belts and flux of charged particles at satellite altitude.

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