Headlines > News > Launch Campaign For SMOS Satellite Begins

Launch Campaign For SMOS Satellite Begins

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:55 am via: source
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Archangel / Bremen, (Eurockot) – The SMOS Earth Explorer satellite safely arrived at Archangel airport in Northern Russia this morning onboard an Antonov 124 cargo plane. This marks the start of the launch campaign for this satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA). The launch of SMOS by Eurockot Launch Services from Plesetsk Cosmodrome, some 200 km south of Archangel, is scheduled for November 02, 2009. SMOS will be launched together with Proba-2, an ESA technology demonstrator satellite, on a Rockot launch vehicle from Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

The Antonov 124 landed at Archangel`s Talagi International Airport inbound from Cannes, France, at 06.45h local time this morning. Cannes is one of the sites of ThalesAleniaSpace, the industrial prime contractor for the SMOS spacecraft. SMOS and its ground support equipment (GSE) were shipped in containers and these were duly unloaded from the plane, processed through customs within 40 minutes and re-loaded onto trucks for a short onward journey to Archangel railway station.

A dedicated railway train will take the satellite, GSE and the accompanying team made up of personnel from ESA, ThalesAlenia, Khrunichev and Eurockot to Plesetsk railway station in some 9 hours and then to the satellite preparation and integration facility (MIK) at Plesetsk Cosmodrome which processes all spacecraft to be launched on Rockot launch vehicles by Eurockot Launch Services.

The Proba-2 technology demonstrator already arrived in Plesetsk from the facilities of the Verhaert company in Belgium on September 03, 2009. Proba-2 will be launched as a secondary payload to SMOS.

SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) is a satellite from the Earth Explorer Envelope Programme of ESA and will produce global maps of high resolution and sensitivity showing soil moisture and ocean salinity and their variations based on the continuous exchange of water between oceans, atmosphere and land. This will result in an improved forecasting of  climate, weather and meteorological extremes.  SMOS comprises a Proteus spacecraft platform supplied by CNES, the French National Space Agency, and the MIRAS interferometric radiometer developed by EADS CASA Espacio in Madrid, Spain. The mass of SMOS is approx. 665 kg. Eurockot Launch Services will place SMOS into a sun-synchronous orbit of approx. 756 km altitude under a contract with the European Space Agency.

Proba (Project for On-Board Autonomy) -2 is a technology research satellite of some 130 kg belonging to the ESA Technology Directorate.. Its objectives are the demonstration and evaluation of new hard- and software for autonomous space missions and the demonstration of sun observation and space environment instruments. Proba-2 will be accommodated under the conical adapter carrying SMOS and will be released into a sun-synchronous orbit of approx. 740 km altitude after two orbit change manoeuvres of the Breeze upper-stage.

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