Meet ESA, the space agency for Europe

You, together with your 500 million fellow citizens from ESA’s 20 European member nations, are the collective owners of one of the world’s leading space agencies. The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation, a cooperative coming together of its Member States in their national interest and common good. This new video offers a quick introduction: Europe, meet ESA.

ESA hands over control of the Metop-B weather satellite...

Yesterday, at 18:30 local time EUMETSAT took control of Metop-B operations, following the three-day Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) conducted by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) of the European Space Agency (ESA). The handover follows the launch of Metop-B on 17 September. Since Monday evening, teams at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, have been busy day and night during the Launch and Early Orbit Phase. As planned, they checked all of Metop-B’s systems and ensured that its solar array was deployed and oriented towards the Sun to provide crucial power to run the satellite and its 11 scientific instruments. On Day One, the ESA Flight Operations teams...

Metop-B to be handed over

Handover to Eumetsat is set to take place at 18:00 CEST today. At 14:45 today, the extended mission operations ‘team of teams’ at ESA gathered in the Main Control Room to witness the addition of the successful launch and LEOP for Metop-B to the history board running across the top of the back wall. A great tradition. Sweet!

Fabulous: Metop-B imaged in orbit

A fabulous new photo was acquired yesterday by Marco Langbroek, an amateur astro-photographer living in Leiden, NL. Marco’s done some excellent work in the past couple years, capturing images of ATV, Envisat and Phobos-Grunt. Now? It’s Metop-B! Thanks, Marco, for sharing! (Click on photo for full size) Marco wrote: Hi Daniel, Attached a picture I took this evening, in a partly cloudy sky, of ESA’s new MetOp-B satellite launched on September 17th. In the picture, it is passing through Lyra (brightest star is Vega). Near the right end of the MetOp-B trail, you can see a very faint second trail going diagonally up (if you look very carefully). That is an old...

H-Day: Metop-B handover to Eumetsat

Today around 18:00 CEST, 72 hrs after launch, ESA’s Operations teams will hand over a very healthy Metop-B for routine operations to our colleagues at Eumetsat. ESA’s Deputy Flight Director Andreas Rudolph just reported from ESOC’s Main Control Room: All systems are on green. During LEOP, our jobs on the ESA side were: one orbit manoeuvre, routine hand-over activities, preparation of the memory system and uplink routine commands to ensure spacecraft autonomy (as of now). Our colleagues from Eumetsat will be happy to receive a spacecraft in great shape and on a precise orbit.

Today: orbit correction thruster burn

All goes well with the critical Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) activities at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt! Today, the mission operations team are focussed on completing the OCMs – orbit correction manoeuvres – that will gently nudge Metop-B into its final orbital position. There are thruster burn slots available at 20:46 CEST today and early tomorrow morning. In fact, Metop-B was delivered into an almost perfect orbit, so the manoeuvres need only be done within the plane of the orbit. From this morning’s mission operations report (06:28 CEST): Metop-B has now completed almost 21 orbits and is continuing to perform excellently Orbit is nearly circular at about 801 km altitude,...

Update from ESA team in ESOC’s Main Control Room

The latest on Metop-B from the Main Control Room at ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt. We spoke earlier today with Deputy Flight Director Andreas Rudolph: All our systems are green! The ongoing post-launch tests & check-outs are proceding as planned. The Soyuz-Fregat launcher did a fantastic job, injecting Metop-B into its orbit at a precision of 3km and within 2 millidegrees of planned inclination.  Currently, Metop-B is at around 790 km altitude, moving toward the 817 km routine polar orbit. As planned, we have been checking spacecraft attitude, data handling, telecom links, software, back-up systems, solar array operation, power and temperatures. All look very well and, thus, ‘nominal’. We will do further...

Metop-B enters orbit

Earlier this evening, after a spectacular night-time launch from Baikonur, Europe’s newest operational weather satellite, MetOp-B, successfully entered orbit. The Soyuz launch vehicle lifted off the pad at 18:28 CEST, and continued on to a flawless boost phase and polar orbit injection. At 20:47 CEST, the solar arrays were confirmed by ESA Mission Director Hervé Côme to be rotating correctly into position, indicating launch success. Teams at Starsem, the launch authority, the Metop project at ESA, the mission operations, ground stations and flight dynamics teams at ESOC and teams at Eumetsat have done an excellent job! The success marks the start of an intensive Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) running to...

MetOp-B lift-off clip 18:28 CEST 17 September 2012

Clip from live webcast of MetOp-B lift-off from Baikonur on board a SoyuzFT launcher at 18:28 CEST, 17 September 2012. The launch webcast will restart at 19:32 CEST (see video feed above).

Live webcast: MetOp-B lift off

Our webcast is now live and will cover the next three hours of launch and orbit insertion. A replay will be available shortly after the programme ends. Watch live streaming video from metop at