Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, Europe’s spaceport will put another satellite into orbit, making it the 23rd for the year (I count BepiColombo as three spacecrafts). The CSO-1 satellite is the eleventh launch of 2018 and the eighth launch in 6 months.
Not only have the spaceport teams been very busy these last 12 months, but it feels as if every nook and cranny of our payload facilities has been occupied with either a spacecraft or a spacecraft team. Clients from all over the world have passed through the site this year, and 2019 promises to bring more of the same.
From an ESA perspective, 2018 has been a great year. We’ve had four Galileo satellites launched for the European Commission with Ariane 5 on July 25, the Earth observation satellite Aeolus with Vega on August 22, the ESA-JAXA scientific satellite BepiColombo going to Mercury with Ariane 5 on October 19, and Metop-C for Eumetsat on November 6.
Additionally, the 100th flight of Ariane 5 was marked by the launch of two commercial satellites on September 25. It was a great moment that we celebrated with a very large cake showing images of Ariane launches (and yes, they were edible!). July 16 saw the first test firing of the new solid booster engine called P120C that will be common to Ariane 6 and Vega C. Work has advanced rapidly on the launch site for Ariane 6, and necessary changes have been made to the Vega launch site (in parallel to the ongoing Aeolus-Vega campaign).
Time flies and the weeks are so packed that even writing a few words for the blog has become a sporadic affair. Increasing the frequency is among my 2019 New Year’s resolutions, and hopefully one I can attain.
On Tuesday, you can watch the Soyuz launch on Arianespace’s website. The launch is scheduled for 16:37 UTC.
Head of the ESA Space Transportation Office in Kourou