Two significant satellite launches in one week for Stevenage's Airbus Defence & Space

PUBLISHED: 13:25 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:25 13 October 2017

The Sentinel-5 satellite. Picture: Airbus Defence & Space

The Sentinel-5 satellite. Picture: Airbus Defence & Space


Two satellites for which vital systems were built at Airbus Defence & Space in Stevenage have been blasted into space.

The Sentinel-5P – which will monitor pollutant gases like carbon monoxide and ozone which can harm human health – was launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia at 9.30am this morning.

The satellite is now riding to orbit on a converted Russian intercontinental ballistic missile called a Rockot.

It is part of a project called the Copernicus Programme which sees the EU working with the European Space Agency to launch a fleet of satellites that will effectively monitor the earth’s environment and provide the data that can help governments form policies to protect it.

Five of the programme’s satellites are already in orbit and many more will follow in the coming years.

The craft carries an instrument designed in Holland which will make 20 million observations daily, building maps of polluting gases and particles known to be harmful to health.

Speaking to the Comet at a pre-launch event earlier this year, Airbus’ business development manager Ralph Cordey said: “A mission like this builds on the skills we’ve developed here at the Stevenage facility for years.

“There are other important missions we are developing here in Stevenage, like an orbiter that will go to the sun.

“There’s a link between Stevenage and the rest of Europe – it’s showing we’re linked-in economically and linked-in socially and are contributing as part of a European team to a success venture, and we’re contributing to things here in Stevenage that can affect Europe and the rest of the world.”

A second satellite whose life support system was built in Stevenage also launched on Wednesday evening.

Echostar 105/SES11 is for TV broadcast and will aid business and government connectivity.

It went up on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

You can watch the launch of the Sentinel 5P craft again and find information about it here.

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