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Soyuz Launch Of MetOp-A Satellite Postponed

By | October 9, 2006

      The launch of a satellite on the Soyuz vehicle, which was to have lifted off Saturday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, has been postponed for several days, according to Starsem.

      Cause of the delay wasn’t detailed by Starsem, except to characterize it as “a non-conformity.”

      “Following a non-conformity observed during a handling operation on the upper composite of the launcher, Starsem has decided to carry out additional checks,” it announced.

      “These checks will postpone by several days the originally scheduled launch date,” Starsem reported, adding that a “new launch date will be announced very shortly.”

      The Soyuz was to have placed in orbit the MetOp-A meteorological satellite.

      That satellite was procured under a cooperation agreement between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), in which ESA is responsible for satellite development Starsem manages the technical interface with the launcher and provides state of the art satellite preparation facilities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to Starsem.

      MetOp-A is the first of a series of three satellites that will be launched at 4.5 year intervals to provide 14 years of operation. They constitute the space segment for the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS), which in conjunction with the U.S. Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite constellation provides global meteorological coverage from low Earth orbit.

      MetOp will be the first European satellite dedicated to operational meteorology in the low Earth polar orbit, at a nominal altitude of 820 kilometers (509.5 miles). It will complement the data currently being provided by the existing family of Meteosat satellites that operate in the much higher geostationary orbit.

      “The MetOp satellite will carry 12 instruments relating to meteorology, climate monitoring and humanitarian missions. The payload constitutes a mixture of recurrent instruments provided by NOAA/NASA and new instruments, developed in Europe, to provide state of the art remote sensing,” according to ESA.

      In combination the payload will ensure enhanced accuracy for measuring temperature, humidity, the speed and direction of wind above the ocean, and the distribution of ozone in the atmosphere, ESA reported.

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