European Space Agency ends efforts to recover Sentinel-1B – SpaceNews

The European Space Agency is ending efforts to restore operations to the Sentinel-1B radar imaging satellite that has been out of order for more than half a year, and will instead advance with a replacement launch.

The European Space Agency said in August. Statement 3 that the Agency and the European Commission, partners in the Copernicus series of Earth observation satellites, have given up trying to recover the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload on the Sentinel-1B and were ending the spacecraft’s mission more than six years after its launch. release. That payload broke down in December 2021 and the European Space Agency has been working since then to try to recover it.

A summary of the SAR load failure investigation concluded a failure of 28 volt power regulators for the SAR load. One is required to run the payload. Efforts to restore it failed except for one case in April when the master regulator ran for 4.4 seconds before shutting down again. This provided “valuable feedback for identifying potential failure patterns,” the summary said.

The report concluded that the most likely cause of the failure of the power regulators was a “potential leakage of a ceramic capacitor” present in both regulators which had to be replaced during load manufacturing and testing. The replacement was sold in a way that could damage it.

“The conclusion of the Anomaly Review Board is that it is impossible to recover the 28V regulated vector of the satellite’s C-band synthetic aperture radar antenna power supply, which is necessary to provide power for the radar electronics,” said Simonetta Chile, director of the Space Agency’s Earth Observation Program. European Union, in the statement announcing the termination of the Sentinel-1B mission.

There have been rumors in recent days that the European Space Agency and the European Commission have abandoned efforts to recover Sentinel-1B. The last public update for recovery efforts was in April. A spokesperson for the European Space Agency (ESA) said August. 2 that the agency is still “gathering some additional information” and coordinating with the Commission on the mission.

Sentinel-1B has been operated in conjunction with Sentinel-1A, launched in 2014, to provide SAR images for a variety of Earth science applications. Sentinel-1A remains operational but has the same potential flaw in its payload power system. An ESA investigation indicated that the Sentinel-1A’s payload power system had not experienced any problems since launch, and since the Sentinel-1B anomaly, its performance is closely monitored.

“The permanent unavailability of the Sentinel-1B satellite represents a significant loss for the European Union space program and the European Commission is working to mitigate its impact,” Paraskevi Papantonio, Acting Director of Space at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Defense, Industry and Space said in the statement.

In the near term, the European Space Agency and the European Commission are buying SAR data from other satellites. This includes Canada’s Radarsat-2, Radarsat Constellation Mission, Germany’s TerraSAR-X, Italy’s COSMO-SkyMed and Spain’s PAZ.

A new satellite, Sentinel-1C, is almost ready for launch. The European Space Agency in April announced a contract with Arianespace to launch Vega-C for the Sentinel-1C. At the time, the launch was scheduled for some time in the first half of 2023.

“Our focus is on fast-tracking the launch of the Sentinel-1C,” Chile said in the statement. “Now, thanks to the successful inaugural flight of the Vega-C rocket on July 13, we and Arianespace aim to launch in the second quarter of 2023.” There was discussion early in the year, though, of moving to a version of the Sentinel-1C late this year.

Although the SAR payload failed, the Sentinel-1B spacecraft itself was still operational. “We have the Sentinel-1B under control,” Alistair O’Connell, director of operations for the Sentinel-1 spacecraft, said in a statement. “We conduct regular monitoring of the health of the spacecraft and routine orbit control maneuvers.”

The European Space Agency will remove the Sentinel-1B orbit after the Sentinel-1C launch. O’Connell said the spacecraft will comply with orbital debris mitigation guidelines that call for the spacecraft to be removed from orbit within 25 years of the end of its mission. “In practice, the re-entry period is expected to be much shorter,” he said.

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