Baikonur, September 17, 2012
On Monday, September 17, 2012, Starsem successfully launched Metop-B, Europe's second operational meteorological satellite in polar orbit.
The Soyuz/ST launcher lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan right on schedule, at 10:28 pm local time (16:28 UTC, 6:28 pm in Paris). This was the 1,792nd launch of a Soyuz family rocket.
Starsem and its Russian partners confirmed the satellite's injection by the Fregat upper stage into the targeted Sun-synchronous orbit. Two successive firings of the upper stage placed the Metop-B satellite into its orbital position, 1 hour and 8 minutes after liftoff.
Metop-B will provide information on atmospheric temperatures and humidity, vital for weather forecasts and climate monitoring. It is a joint program of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Eumetsat, the European Meteorological Satellite organization. Their main partners are the French space agency CNES and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States.
Weighing 4,085 kg. at liftoff, Metop-B was injected into polar orbit at an altitude of 800 km. Metop-B was built by Astrium and offers a design life of five years.
Starsem used the 2-1a version of the Soyuz/ST launcher for its 25th mission. This launcher offers improved navigation capability thanks to a digital control system, and is fitted with a fairing measuring 4.1 meters in diameter and 11.4 meters long.
Today's successful mission by Soyuz clearly confirms the production capabilities of the Samara Space Center (TsSKB-Progress) and the talent of all the teams working for the Russian space agency Roscosmos.