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N° 25–2015: Europe’s MSG-4 weather satellite delivered into orbit

16 July 2015

The last weather satellite in Europe’s highly successful Meteosat Second Generation series lifted off on an Ariane 5 launcher at 21:42 GMT (23:42 CEST) on 15 July from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The two-satellite MSG system provides up-to-date weather coverage over Europe and Africa every 15 minutes and ‘rapid scan’ imagery over Europe every five minutes.

Some 40 minutes after launch, MSG-4 separated from Ariane 5 into the planned transfer orbit. Over the next 10 days, the satellite’s propulsion system will raise it into a geostationary orbit some 36 000 km above the equator, where its speed matches Earth’s rotation.

Once these initial efforts are completed by ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, MSG-4 will be handed over to the satellite’s owner, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites – EUMETSAT – to commission the payload.

ESA’s Director General, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, commented, “After just two weeks as the new DG for ESA, it has been a pleasure not only to witness the launch of this satellite, but also observe the continued cooperation between ESA and EUMETSAT.

“Tonight’s launch allows the continuation of high-quality observations of weather from space, including rapid detection and warning of extreme weather situations – imperative for keeping European citizens safe.”

After commissioning, MSG-4 will become Meteosat-11 and be ‘stored’ until it replaces one of its predecessors. It will then ensure the continuity of the data until the first Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellites enter service, expected in 2019 and 2021.

“We have learnt a lot from the long-term storage of satellites, which we can use for other operational systems such as the Sentinels,” noted Volker Liebig, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes.

“The excellent health of the Meteosat satellites in orbit means the launch of MSG-4 comes five years later than expected.”

ESA’s contribution to weather and climate watch is not limited to the Meteosat series of satellites – it has also developed the Meteorological Operational satellites MetOp, also operated by EUMETSAT.

Additionally, the ESA-developed Sentinel-4 and -5 missions dedicated to monitoring the composition of the atmosphere for Europe’s Copernicus programme will be carried on the MTG and MetOp Second Generation satellites, respectively.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, have signed Accession Agreements to the ESA Convention and will soon become new ESA Member States.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

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