Sentinel-2B was successfully carried into orbit on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 01:49 GMT on 7th March (22:49 local time, 6th March). It was the third launch of the year for Arianespace and the ninth Vega mission since the launcher entered service in 2012.
The first stage separated 1 min 55 sec after liftoff, followed by the second stage and fairing at 3 min 39 sec and 3 min 56 sec, respectively, and the third stage at 6 min 32 sec. After two more ignitions, Vega’s upper stage delivered Sentinel-2B into the targeted Sun-synchronous orbit. The satellite separated from the stage 57 min 57 sec into the flight.
After this first ‘launch and early orbit’ phase, which typically lasts three days, controllers will begin checking and calibrating the instruments to commission the satellite. The mission is expected to begin operations in three to four months.
Sentinel-2B will double the coverage of high-resolution optical imaging in the Sentinel-2 mission for the European Union Copernicus environmental monitoring system. Two more satellites — Sentinel-5P and Sentinel-3B — are scheduled to join the constellation in the coming months.
The optical imaging Sentinel-2 mission is based on a constellation of two identical satellites: Sentinel-2A, which was launched in June 2015, and Sentinel-2B. Although launched separately, the satellites are placed in the same orbit, flying 180° apart. Every five days, the satellites jointly cover all land surfaces, large islands, and inland and coastal waters between latitudes 84°S and 84°N, optimising global coverage and data delivery.
Each Sentinel-2 satellite carries a high-resolution multispectral camera with 13 spectral bands for a new perspective of land and vegetation. The combination of high-resolution, novel spectral capabilities, a field of vision covering 290 km and frequent revisit times will provide unprecedented views of Earth.