Sentinel-3B: and she’s up

After unpacking Sentinel-3B and positioning it on the tilting dolly, the satellite has been switched on and moved into a vertical position.

The team switched on the satellite on Friday 23 March – always a tense moment.

ESA’s Kristof Gantois said, “It had been in ‘dormant mode’ for four weeks so it was great to see the first signs of life from our baby. All its vitals look normal!”

The vibration specialists also confirmed that nothing untoward had happed to Sentinel-3B during its long journey from Cannes in France to Plesetsk in Russia. So it didn’t experience any ‘off-nominal’ vibrations or shocks and the temperature remained within limits.

From horizontal to vertical. (ESA)

“These are the very first tests to make sure the satellite is alive and well, from now on we go into the thorough testing plan,” added Kristoff.

The team also received another piece of good news from ESA’s European Spacecraft Operations Centre in Germany on Friday: they’ve passed the Operations Readiness Review, meaning that all the ground systems and operations plans & procedures are green for launch.

So, the team in Plesetsk just have the minor task of getting the satellite ready for liftoff!

Work continued on Saturday with testing the satellite’s S-band communication system while the propulsion team inspected the ‘fill and drain’ valve. They have to be sure that there will be no leaks after the satellite has been fuelled.

On Sunday, the team enjoyed a well-deserved day off. Well, apart from the mechanical team who headed for the cleanroom to work on the multilayer insulation – the satellite’s thermal covering.

Local amenities. (ESA)

Cold outside. (ESA)

Monday was a busy day that started with the team arriving in the cleanroom at 07:00. Tasks for the day included hoisting the satellite into a vertical position where it will remain until after fuelling.

She’s up for testing. (ESA)

The weather in Plesetsk is sporadic snow and –4°C/–17°C

From the ESA Sentinel-3Blaunch campaign team in Plesetsk

Read more about the Sentinel-3 mission



  • François Paoli says:

    Wish to all the Sentinel-3B ESA/Thales Alenia Space team in Plessestk a good launch campaign, and a smooth ride to orbit for the 3B model !

    PS: Kristof, thanks for your blog.

    François Paoli (previous Sentinel-3A technical responsible at Thales Alenia Space, now retired)

  • Thierry MURCIA says:

    Your baby has traveled smoothly. See you next time Kristof!

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