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Sentinel-1A lifted off on a Soyuz launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on April 3, 2014.

The ability of European citizens, policymakers and service providers to routinely access key environmental data took a major step forward with the launch of the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1A satellite on April 3, 2014.

The 2.3-tonne satellite lifted off on a Soyuz rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 21:02 GMT (23:02 CEST). The first stage separated 118 seconds later, followed by the fairing (209 seconds), stage 2 (287 seconds) and the upper assembly (526 seconds). After a 617-second burn, the Fregat upper stage delivered Sentinel into a sun-synchronous orbit at 693-km altitude.

“Sentinel-1A opens a new page in the implementation of Copernicus, the second EU flagship space initiative, after the Galileo positioning system,” said European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain. “The Copernicus programme will provide European citizens with the most ambitious space-based services in the world for environmental and security applications.”

The mission is the first of six families of dedicated missions that will make up the core of Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring network. Copernicus will provide operational information on the world’s land surfaces, oceans and atmosphere to support environmental and security policymaking and the needs of individual citizens and service providers.

Image courtesy of European Space Agency.

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