End of the mission of the Copernicus Sentinel-1B satellite

On December 23, 2021, Copernicus Sentinel-1B encountered an anomaly related to the instrument electronics power supply provided by the satellite platform, which prevented it from providing radar data. Since then, operators and spacecraft engineers are working to correct the problem. Unfortunately, despite all efforts, ESA and the European Commission announce the end of the Sentinel-1B mission.

ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs Simonetta Cheli said that “Unfortunately, we have to announce the end of the mission of the Copernicus Sentinel-1B satellite. LThe conclusion reached by the Anomaly Review Board is that it is impossible to salvage the 28V regulated bus from the satellite’s C-band synthetic aperture radar antenna power supply, which is needed to power the electronics radar.

“Sentinel-1A remains in very good health in orbit and continues to provide high quality radar imagery for a multitude of applications. Our goal is to accelerate the launch of Sentinel-1C. Now, thanks to the successful maiden flight of the Vega-C rocket on July 13, we are targeting, together with Arianespace, a launch in the second quarter of 2023.”

The Acting Director for Space of the European Commission (Directorate General for Defense Industry and Space), Paraskevi Papantoniou, underlined in this regard that “the permanent unavailability of the Sentinel-1B satellite represents a major loss for the space program of the European Union and the European Commission undertakes to mitigate its impact. In particular, moving forward with the launch of the Sentinel-1C satellite.

“In the meantime, data from the Copernicus Contribution Mission, including data from European New Space companies, will continue to be used to support the most critical Copernicus Services products that are affected. The preparations for the de-orbiting of the Sentinel-1B satellite are an example of our joint commitment, for the European Union and ESA, with a clean and responsible space, using the EU’s space control and surveillance capabilities”, he added.

The ambitious Sentinel-1 mission, carrying advanced radar technology to provide an all-weather supply of images of the Earth’s surface, day and night, has raised the bar for space-based radars. The mission benefits many Copernicus services and applications. With such an important role to play and users relying on timely data, ESA acted as soon as it became clear that Sentinel-1B’s power issue could take a few weeks to resolve, which was hope at the end of December.

Alistair O’Connell, Sentinel-1 spacecraft operations manager, said:we have Sentinel-1B under control, all other systems except the energy affected unit, which prevents the radar from turning on, continue to function nominally and we regularly perform spacecraft status monitoring and routine orbit control maneuvers. We will keep Sentinel-1B under control until we can begin the removal process, which we will begin once Sentinel-1C is safely in orbit.”

The deorbiting of Sentinel-1B will be carried out in accordance with space debris mitigation requirements that were in place for ESA projects during the design of Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B, which means that re-entry into the atmosphere will take place within 25 years. In practice, the duration of readmission is expected to be much shorter,” he concluded.

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