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With liftoff for Sentinel-1B, the next Copernicus mission, just weeks away, teams at ESA’s ESOC mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, are undergoing intensive training.
Sentinel-1B is already in French Guiana being prepared for liftoff on 22 April. It will join its twin, Sentinel-1A, in orbit to provide more radar views of Earth for Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring effort.
The satellites each carry an advanced radar for all-weather, day-and-night coverage of Earth’s surface. Working together, they will image the entire planet every six days.
Simulations are a crucial aspect of launch preparations at ESOC, training the permanent Flight Control Team together with other teams, including flight dynamics, ground systems, the satellite builder and the project team.
‘Sims’ often run 8–12 hours, with an extensive and detailed debriefing at the end of the day. If a mistake is made, the team repeats the simulation, until they know the process by heart and can react correctly in any situation.
Teamwork is honed to a sharp edge, and all the engineers know their role and their own portion of the satellite’s systems – and they can assist team mates if needed.