5 March 2012 – Metop-B, the European operational polar orbiting weather satellite designed and manufactured by Astrium, recently left the clean room at the European space industry leader’s site in Toulouse. Metop-B was prepared for shipping to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where a Soyuz launcher will place it in orbit with Starsem. The target launch date is 23 May 2012.
Once in its polar orbit at an altitude of 817 km, Metop-B will provide a wide range of global measurements that are essential for weather forecasting and climate monitoring. The satellite weighs 4,100 kg and has an expected lifetime of five years in orbit.
Many components and several instruments for Metop-B were manufactured at Astrium sites in Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, France and the Netherlands. These include the ASCAT radar, which will measure the speed and direction of wind fields over the Earth’s oceans, and the Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS) which will measure atmospheric humidity.
Metop-B is the second of three weather satellites procured by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Eumetsat from Astrium. The satellites are launched at five to six year intervals (Metop-A was launched in 2006 and Metop-C is scheduled to join them in 2016) to ensure the programme will be operational for at least 16 years.
Weather satellites are essential for ensuring the safety of citizens, infrastructure and industry in Europe and beyond. Only they can continuously provide weather and climate data spanning the entire planet. Astrium is a world leader in Earth-Observation and weather satellite manufacturing, with 86 satellites in orbit or on order, and a cumulative in orbit lifetime of more than 350 years. Following the successful manufacture of ENVISAT, Europe’s first research satellite for atmospheric observation, Astrium was selected by ESA to design and assemble some of the Sentinel satellites as part of Europe’s GMES programme for monitoring the environment and security.
The Metop/SG (Metop Second Generation) programme is expected to be approved by ESA Member States at the upcoming Ministerial Council, and by Eumetsat as a follow on programme to Metop to guarantee continuity of space data and services in the long term.
Astrium is the number one company in Europe and the third in the world for space technologies. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services.
In 2010, Astrium had a turnover of €5 billion and more than 15,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment, and Astrium Services for comprehensive end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, bespoke geo-information and navigation services worldwide.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.
Jeremy Close (Astrium UK) Tel.: +44 (0)1 438 77 3872
Gregory Gavroy (Astrium FR) Tel.: +33 (0) 1 77 75 80 32
Ralph Heinrich (Astrium GER) Tel.: +49 (0) 89 607 33971
Francisco Lechón (Astrium SP) Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41
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