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Sentinel-1 controllers ready for hectic first days

25 March 2014

Following a spectacular launch, Sentinel-1A's first few days in orbit will be some of the most complex in recent memory. Mission control teams will work around the clock to nurse the satellite through its early critical hours in space.

As part of Europe's Copernicus programme, ESA's Sentinel-1A is the first of a two-satellite mission that will scan land and oceans using an advanced radar to deliver imagery regardless of weather.

Sentinel-1A will be lofted into orbit by a Soyuz launch vehicle from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 21:02 GMT (23:02 CEST) on 3 April. The satellite will separate from the upper stage just under 25 minutes later at an altitude of about 690 km.

Separation marks the start of 'LEOP' - the crucial launch and early orbit phase - when mission controllers at ESOC, ESA's operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, assume responsibility for the satellite.

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