Soyuz Launches MetOp

The MetOp satellite was finally launched into polar orbit on 19 October 2006 on a Soyuz rocket:

The Soyuz 2-1a, an enhanced version of the Soyuz launcher, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan right on schedule at 10:28 p.m. local time (04:28 p.m. UTC, 06:28 p.m. in Paris). It is the 1,714th launch of a rocket from the Soyuz family.

Starsem and its Russian partners confirmed that the Fregat orbital stage accurately injected Eumetsat’s MetOp-A satellite into its Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO). The Fregat upper stage was ignited twice to place MetOp-A into orbit 1 hour, 8 minutes after lift-off.

The MetOp-A satellite will provide more precise details about atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles, invaluable for weather forecasting and climate monitoring. The MetOp program was jointly established by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Their main partners in this co-operative venture are the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in France and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

For this flight, Starsem used the upgraded Soyuz 2-1a, flown with the new ST fairing. The 2-1a configuration features improved navigation accuracy and control capability provided by a digital control system. The 2-1a configuration also enables Starsem to introduce the ST payload fairing with an external diameter of 4.1 meters and a length of 11.4 meters.

This latest successful launch by Soyuz reflects the industrial capabilities of the Samara Space Center (TsSKB-Progress) and the skills of all the operating teams, working under the authority of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).

Starsem is responsible for the international marketing and operation of Soyuz launchers. Its shareholders are Arianespace, EADS, Roscosmos and the Samara Space Center.

Check out the launch highlights.