Germany: European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a contract to Eurockot for the launch of two of its Earth observation missions. The contract covers the launch of ESA’s Swarm magnetic-field mission and a ticket for one other mission, yet to be decided. Both will take place from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia using a Rockot launcher.
This new contract highlights ESA’s commitment to learning more about Earth from the vantage point of space. Swarm will be the fourth earth explorer satellite in orbit, following the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), launched by Eurockot in March 2009, the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) satellite, also launched by Eurockot, in November 2009, and CryoSat, launched by Kosmotras in April 2010.
The Swarm mission comprises three satellites, launched together, to provide high-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength and direction of Earth’s magnetic field. This will provide new insights into Earth’s interior, further our understanding of atmospheric processes connected with climate and weather, and offer practical applications in areas such as space weather and radiation hazards.
The launch of Swarm is planned for before mid-2012. Although Rockot is a small launcher, it can deliver all three satellites into an orbit 490 km above Earth.