By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by following this link Accept & Close ›
Space Blog

RapidEye constellation launch successful

All five RapidEye satellites were successfully launched this morning by Dnepr from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
RapidEye launch (Phil Kinsey / SSTL)
Following this morning’s launch, the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle in slightly different orbits to allow constellation phasing and will eventually be positioned equally spaced within the same orbit about 19 minutes apart. SSTL will control the constellation throughout the two week Launch and Early Operation Phase (LEOP) in a coordinated effort between their mission control facilities in the UK and the ground station supplied to RapidEye in Brandenburg, Germany. A team of three SSTL operators and three support staff will work with the MDA and RapidEye teams in Brandenburg, with the UK team analysing data as it is received and on standby to react to any technical challenges. Project manager Ben Stocker commented: "The simultaneous launch of five satellites is not without its challenges. Commissioning will be performed from both the RapidEye ground station in Brandenburg and the SSTL mission control centre in Guildford. The five satellites will gradually disperse from each other following separation from the launch vehicle, allowing three satellites to be tracked and operated from Brandenburg with the remainder under the control of the Guildford operators. This method of operation offers the most efficient route to achieving the maximum amount of contact time per satellite during the early days of commissioning following launch. As the satellites are gradually manoeuvred into position around the orbit during the commissioning phase, the Brandenburg ground station will assume full control over the constellation." Following separation from the launch vehicle, the spacecraft activate three GaAs solar panels, generating up to 105W in sunlight. The power system will then assume active control of the battery charge management system, enabling operators to initiate communication with the five RapidEye satellites via the S-band system. Within hours the team plan to upload programs to the on-board computers that will enable early operations and checkout to commence. The attitude control system on each spacecraft will use magnetometers, magnetorquers, sun sensors and reaction wheels to achieve 3-axis stabilization, whilst using high accuracy attitude information from a star camera to finalise accurate nadir (towards Earth) pointing before proceeding with more advanced roll manoeuvres. Following LEOP, the full functionality of the satellites, including the imaging payloads built by German company Jena-Optronik GmbH, will be tested by collecting imagery over a 10-week period. During this time MDA will demonstrate the performance of the constellation before RapidEye AG takes delivery of the system and commences commercial imaging operations. RapidEye plans to operate the mission to deliver agricultural land information products and services such as crop monitoring and mapping, yield prediction and natural disaster assessment. SSTL’s Chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting, commented: "SSTL long ago established the benefits of small satellite constellations and launched the Disaster Monitoring Constellation in 2002, paving the way for a new paradigm in remote sensing. The launch of RapidEye will fully realise the business potential of constellations. The simultaneous build of five satellites is the largest mission so far in terms of maximising and managing production at SSTL’s Guildford facilities. Expert in-house engineering and project management teams worked closely with MDA, streamlining the design, build and test of all five satellite platforms."





29 August 20080 Comments1 Comment

Back to Blog

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.
 Security code

About This Blog

SSTL's lowdown on cost effective space technology, small satellites, space science and interplanetary exploration.

Post Archive

December 2017(1)
October 2017(1)
May 2017(1)
January 2017(2)
October 2016(3)
September 2016(1)
July 2016(1)
June 2016(1)
April 2016(1)
March 2016(4)
February 2016(3)
December 2015(2)
November 2015(3)
October 2015(3)
July 2015(1)
May 2015(0)
May 2015(1)
April 2015(1)
March 2015(2)
February 2015(2)
January 2015(2)
December 2014(1)
November 2014(2)
October 2014(2)
September 2014(1)
July 2014(2)
June 2014(3)
May 2014(1)
April 2014(1)
March 2014(1)
February 2014(2)
January 2014(2)
November 2013(3)
October 2013(2)
September 2013(2)
July 2013(3)
June 2013(2)
May 2013(2)
April 2013(4)
March 2013(1)
February 2013(3)
January 2013(5)
December 2012(6)
November 2012(5)
October 2012(4)
September 2012(4)
August 2012(1)
July 2012(6)
June 2012(1)
May 2012(2)
April 2012(5)
March 2012(3)
February 2012(3)
January 2012(1)
December 2011(1)
November 2011(4)
October 2011(5)
September 2011(4)
August 2011(3)
July 2011(4)
June 2011(6)
May 2011(3)
April 2011(1)
March 2011(3)
February 2011(2)
January 2011(3)
December 2010(2)
November 2010(1)
October 2010(2)
September 2010(4)
August 2010(4)
July 2010(2)
June 2010(2)
May 2010(2)
April 2010(4)
March 2010(4)
February 2010(4)
January 2010(3)
December 2009(2)
November 2009(5)
October 2009(2)
September 2009(6)
August 2009(4)
July 2009(3)
June 2009(1)
May 2009(2)
March 2009(2)
February 2009(5)
January 2009(2)
December 2008(3)
November 2008(6)
October 2008(5)
September 2008(3)
August 2008(5)
June 2008(1)
May 2008(3)
April 2008(5)
March 2008(1)
February 2008(1)
January 2008(3)
December 2007(3)
November 2007(6)
October 2007(3)
September 2007(3)
August 2007(1)
July 2007(1)
June 2007(2)
May 2007(2)
April 2007(1)
January 2007(3)
December 2006(1)
September 2006(1)
May 2006(2)
January 2006(1)
December 2005(7)

Show/Hide All

If you like Space Blog, why not subscribe by RSS by clicking the subscribe button, or to recieve updates by email click the subscribe by email button.

*Comments Policy
SSTL reserves the right not to publish comments if they are deemed inappropriate.