While Sentinel-6 is one of the European Union’s family of Copernicus missions, its implementation is the result of a unique cooperation between ESA, Eumetsat, NASA and NOAA, with contribution from the CNES French space agency.
Through its Copernicus Space Component programme, ESA is responsible for the development of the Poseidon-4 radar altimeter and development of the first satellite, Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, as a whole. It is also responsible for the procurement of the second satellite, Copernicus Sentinel-6B, on behalf of the European Commission and Eumetsat. Following launch, which NASA is responsible for, ESA takes care of the early orbit phase of both satellites as well as in-orbit verification planning, and supports flight operations performed by Eumetsat.
The European Commission and Eumetsat co-fund Copernicus Sentinel-6B.
Eumetsat is responsible for the development of the ground segment and for operations after the launch and early orbit phases. Eumetsat processes the data and delivers the data products services to European users.
NASA has the responsibility for the development of the microwave radiometer, the laser retroreflector and GNSS radio occultation receiver. NASA also provides ground segment support and contributes to the operations and data processing in the US. NASA and NOAA share responsibility for the distribution of data products to users in the US.
NASA is also responsible for funding and procurement of the launch services for both satellites.
As well as offering mission expertise thanks to years of experience with the Jason series, CNES also provides support for the satellites’ precise orbit determination package.
Traditionally, the satellites that form each Copernicus Sentinel mission are called A, B, C, D, according to their order of launch. However, this mission is different. Instead of Copernicus Sentinel-6A, the partnership changed the name of the first satellite to Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich