26 September 2002
The first of EUMETSAT's new generation of weather satellites, MSG-1, has arrived on station at 10.5°W in geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometres above the Earth. After separation from the Ariane-5 launcher on 29 August, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt took the spacecraft under control on behalf of EUMETSAT for the Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP). Operation of the spacecraft has now been handed over to EUMETSAT. MSG has been developed through the close cooperation between the European Space Agency (ESA) and EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.
The combination of ESA’s space technology development skills and EUMETSAT’s meteorological expertise and long-term operational perspective has resulted in this new satellite system set to provide an essential service for at least the next 12 years.
After careful preparations, the LEOP entailed a series of precisely controlled firings of the Liquid Apogee boost Motors (LAMs) on board the spacecraft to successively increase satellite’s velocity to 3 kilometres per second and raise its altitude to 36,000 kilometres above the Earth. Following these manoeuvres it was correctly aligned and its spin rate stabilised at 100 revolutions per minute. José Achache, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programme, stated: “From the development of the satellite to the careful positioning of the satellite to its orbit, ESA and EUMETSAT have worked hand in hand to provide European citizens and beyond with a reliable weather forecasting tool.”
MSG-1 will now remain in orbit in at 10.5°W and the onboard instruments will be activated. A lengthy commissioning period will follow during which all aspects of the systems both on-board the spacecraft and on the ground will be thoroughly tested. The first image from MSG-1 is foreseen towards the end of October and dissemination of imagery to the user communities by the end of the year for evaluation purposes.
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