Sentinel-2 launch timeline

On 23 June, a Vega launcher will loft the first of ESA’s dual Sentinel-2 satellites into orbit from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou. For the mission control team, liftoff will mark the end of many months of careful preparations and the start of the mission’s first critical phase.

For the mission control team, liftoff will mark the end of many months of careful preparations and the start of the mission’s first critical phase.

The VV05 Vega fairing holding the Sentinel-2A satellite in the launch gantry at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Credit: ESA–M. Pédoussaut

The VV05 Vega fairing holding the Sentinel-2A satellite in the launch gantry at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Credit: ESA–M. Pédoussaut

At 1:51:58 GMT (3:51:58 CEST) next Tuesday morning, ESA’s Sentinel-2A satellite is set to launch from Kourou on a 30-m tall Vega rocket for a raucous ride into space on a mission dedicated to Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring programme.

About 55 minutes after lift-off, the Sentinel-2A satellite will separate from Vega’s AVUM upper stage and soar free into orbit, marking the start of the approximately three-day long LEOP – the critical Launch and Early Orbit Phase.

Upon separation, Sentinel-2A will automatically activate its solar array and transmitter, orient itself into an Earth-pointing mode, and start transmitting ‘telemetry’ – onboard status signals – to the ground.

Flight dynamics at ESA. Credit: ESA/J. Mai

Flight dynamics at ESA. Credit: ESA/J. Mai

In Darmstadt, Germany, the mission control team at ESA’s space operations centre will have followed the liftoff intently, waiting for ESA’s ground station in Perth, Australia, to receive the first radio signals from space. The critical acquisition of first signals (AOS) is expected about 55 minutes after launch.

Once contact has been established, the team will assume control of the new spacecraft, working around the clock to activate crucial onboard systems and ensure the spacecraft’s health in the extreme environment of space.

The first orbital manoeuvre – a burn using the spacecraft’s thrusters – is planned around 51 hours into the mission.

Watch live

The lift off will be streamed live via two separate programmes on Tuesday.

  1. Sentinel-2 launch event live from the ESOC operations centre, 01:00 GMT (03:00 CEST) start
  2. Launch webcast live from Kourou, 01:30 GMT (03:30 CEST) start

19 June at Kourou: Launch rehearsal review (RAL) – decision for VV05 flight
19 June at ESOC: Final ‘dress rehearsal’ for Mission Control Team

Timeline below is forecast only and all times are subject to change. See abbreviations at bottom of page.

22/23 June 2015

MET UTC CEST VV05 S2A/ESOC Tracking stations
08:00:00 17:51:58 19:51:58 Start of launcher activities on launch pad in Kourou B-Section of Mission Control Team on console in ESOC MCR; start of pre-launch activities in MCR
07:45:00 18:06:58 20:06:58 Start of Vega countdown
07:40:00 18:11:58 20:11:58 Establish data link from spacecraft to ESOC via umbilical cable
07:00:00 18:51:58 20:51:58 Start of spacecraft switch on; check telemetry flow between spacecraft and ESOC
06:51:00 19:00:58 21:00:58 Synchronization of on-board clock with Universal Time (UTC)
06:30:00 19:21:58 21:21:58 Activation of on-board computer and loading of flight program; Activation of telemetry transmitters
06:00:00 19:51:58 21:51:58 Start of ESOC network countdown – team now conducts periodic spacecraft health checks All ground stations – start of dedicated S2A support
05:45:00 20:06:58 22:06:58 Mobile gantry door opening
05:40:00 20:11:58 22:11:58 Activation of Multi Function Unit – MFU controls the launcher’s critical systems (incl power distribution & pyrotechnics)
05:30:00 20:21:58 22:21:58 Activation of Inertial Reference System – IRS provides inertial navigation data to all subsystems
03:00:00 22:51:58 00:51:58 Mission Control Team starts to configure spacecraft for launch
03:10:00 22:41:58 00:41:58 Mobile gantry withdrawal (ca 45 min)
02:20:00 23:31:58 01:31:58 ESOC FD confirms to Kourou LCC ground segment ready for launch
02:16:00 23:35:58 01:35:58 Mission Control System at ESOC switched to launch configuration
02:00:00 23:51:58 01:51:58 A-Section of Mission Control Team on console in ESOC MCR
01:55:00 23:56:58 01:56:58 Activation of IRS (after withdrawal of gantry)
01:30:00 00:21:58 02:21:58 Initial GO/NOGO roll call at ESOC
01:20:00 00:31:58 02:31:58 Activation of telemetry transmitters (after withdrawal of gantry)
01:20:00 00:31:58 02:31:58 Activation of transponders
01:05:00 00:46:58 02:46:58 ESOC FD confirms GO status with all ground stations Kiruna, Svalbard, Troll, Alaska, Perth
00:52:00 00:59:58 02:59:58 Final GO/NOGO roll call at ESOC
00:45:00 01:06:58 03:06:58 ESOC FD confirms GREEN for launch to Kourou LCC
00:34:00 01:17:58 03:17:58 Launcher system ready
00:10:00 01:41:58 03:41:58 Last weather report prior to launch Sentinel-2 on internal power
00:04:00 01:47:58 03:47:58 Start of Vega synchronized sequence
00:00:30 01:51:28 03:51:28 Activation of automatic sequence
00:00:08 01:51:50 03:51:50 Last possible launch abort
00:00:00 01:51:58 03:51:58 P80 IGNITION
00:00:01 01:51:59 03:51:59 LIFT OFF
00:01:52 01:53:50 03:53:50 Separation of first stage (P80)
00:03:37 01:55:35 03:55:35 Separation of second stage (Zefiro-23)
00:03:54 01:55:52 03:55:52 Jettisoning of fairing
00:06:31 01:58:29 03:58:29 Separation of third stage (Zefiro-9)
00:07:42 01:59:40 03:59:40 AVUM first burn
00:16:08 02:08:06 04:08:06 AVUM shutdown
00:30:32 02:22:30 04:22:30 Perth station ready for AOS
00:38:44 02:30:42 04:30:42 Troll station ready for AOS
00:51:46 02:43:44 04:43:44 AVUM second burn
00:53:52 02:45:50 04:45:50 AVUM second shutdown
00:50:29 02:42:27 04:42:27 Earliest AOS Vega PER AOS VEGA
00:54:43 02:46:41 04:46:41 SEPARATION S2 separates from AVUM upper stage
00:55:20 02:47:18 04:47:18   AOS (Earliest) – Acquisition of signals from S2
Start on-board status & health checks
PER AOS S2A
01:04:55 02:56:53 04:56:53 Earliest possible solar array deployment (ca. 3 min) LOS Perth
01:10:31 03:02:29 05:02:29 AOS Troll
01:23:09 03:15:07 05:15:07 Latest expected solar array deployment complete LOS Troll
01:43:35 03:35:33 05:35:33 AVUM third burn
01:44:04 03:36:02 05:36:02 AVUM shutdown
01:56:27 03:48:25 05:48:25 AOS Alaska
01:59:59 03:51:57 05:51:57 AOS Svalbard
LCC – Launcher Control Centre (Jupiter Control Room, Kourou, French Guyana)
ESOC- European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany
MCR – Main Control Room at ESOC
PER – Perth tracking station, Australia
FD – ESA Flight Director in Main Control Room
VV05 – Vega launcher flight VV05
MET – Mission Elapsed Time (before/after liftoff times are -/+)
S2 – Sentinel-2A spacecraft
AOS – Acquisition of signal
LOS – Loss of signal

 

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