ESA and Arianespace have signed a contract for the launch of Sentinel-1A, the first Earth observation satellite to be built for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme.
Sentinel-1A is scheduled for launch in December 2012 by a Soyuz rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.
Weighing about 2300 kg at launch, it will be placed into a Sun-synchronous, circular orbit at an altitude of about 690 km.
The Sentinels are a family of satellites being developed by ESA to meet the needs of the services provided through the EU’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative.
Sentinel-1 is a radar mission that will provide an all-weather, day-and-night supply of imagery for GMES ocean and land-monitoring services, including mapping forests, ground movement, sea ice and oil spills.
It will be invaluable for providing information for aid workers managing relief efforts in crisis situations.
The mission will also ensure the continuity of radar data from ESA’s ERS and Envisat satellites.
Sentinel-1 is being built by an industrial team led by Thales Alenia Space, Italy.