RapidEye Constellation Launch Successful
[Satellite Today 08-29-08] The five-satellite RapidEye constellation was successfully launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 7:15 a.m. UTC, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) announced on Aug. 29.
According to SSTL, the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle in slightly different orbits to allow constellation phasing and will eventually be positioned equally spaced within the same orbit about 19 minutes apart.
SSTL will control the constellation throughout the two-week launch and early operation phase in a coordinated effort between their mission control facilities in the UK and the ground station supplied to RapidEye in Brandenburg, Germany.
A team of three SSTL operators and three support staff will work with the MDA and RapidEye teams in Brandenburg, with the UK team analyzing data as it is received and on standby to react to any technical challenges.
SSTL designed and built the spacecraft bus, the spacecraft control center and performed the spacecraft assembly integration and test. Jena-Optronik GmbH of Jena, Germany, designed and built the imaging payloads.
MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) is the prime contractor of the RapidEye mission that is delivered turnkey and in-orbit to RapidEye AG. MDA had direct responsibility for the mission design, the spacecraft design and the ground planning and image processing system.