Sentinel-3B: off to meet our satellite

Yesterday it was –5°C and snowed gently all day. This is a bit of a contrast to the sunny weather we had last weekend, and even bigger contrast to the weather in the south of France where our satellite is waiting to depart. There it’s a lovely 21°C.

Train to Arkhangelsk. (ESA)

Anyway, in the morning it was time for the team to split up, some headed off on the bus to the launch site to complete the site inspection and further prepare the cleanrooms, while some of us caught the train for the four and a half hour journey to Archangelsk.

En route. (ESA)

Before leaving, the team made some calls and discussed the weather. The snow and cold affect the ‘braking coefficient’ of the big cargo aircraft. The weather is expected to worsen after Friday, so we need the plane to land before then.

Buffet on train. (ESA)

So the plan is for the satellite to leave Thales Alenia Space in Cannes this evening for Nice airport. It will then fly to Moscow on Thursday for customs clearance and on Arkhangelsk early Friday morning.

Our train ride to Archangelsk was slow but steady, passing through a landscape of forests interspersed with small villages. Even though the journey is actually only 200 km, it somehow makes you realise what a vast country Russia is.

Snowy landscape. (ESA)

Meanwhile, teams at ESA’s European Operations Centre in Germany have been working hard preparing for the day of liftoff and the days after.

Preparing for Sentinel-3B at ESOC. (ESA)

So, we are spread out between Cannes and Nice in France, Noordwijk in the Netherlands, Darmstadt in Germany, and Arkhangelsk and Plesetsk in Russia – all of us working hard to get the show on the road!

From the ESA Sentinel-3Blaunch campaign team in Plesetsk

Read more about the Sentinel-3 mission

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