European Space Agency eyes fourth pop at Sentinel sat launch

Weather and dodgy Soyuz inertial unit to blame for delays

The Soyuz lifter in the mobile gantry at Guiana Space Center. Pic: ESA / Manuel Pedoussaut

The European Space Agency (ESA) is hoping to finally gets its Sentinel-1B Earth-watching satellite off the ground tonight, following three cancelled launches.

Sentinel-1B was scheduled to depart the launchpad at Kourou, French Guiana, atop a Soyuz lifter on Friday. Unfavourable weather scuppered the attempt.

A second pop on Saturday was similarly grounded by "red" weather, and on Sunday the countdown was halted by an "anomaly" which turned out to be a faulty Soyuz inertial unit.

ESA says the offending unit has been replaced, and pending a technical review, Sentinel-1B will be on its way tonight at 21:02 GMT. The agency will have live coverage here.

Artist's impression of Sentinel-1B in orbit. Pic: ESA / Pierre Carril

Sentinel-1B. Pic: ESA / Pierre Carril

Once finally aloft, the satellite will join its identical twin Sentinel-1A - launched in 2014 - in scanning the Earth with its C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar from a 700km altitude polar orbit.

The pair form part of the Copernicus environmental monitoring network. ®

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