NASA Prepares for Upcoming Launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Satellite

Illustration of the Sentinel-6/Michael Freilich satellite in orbit.
Illustration of the Sentinel-6/Michael Freilich satellite in orbit. Image credit: ESA

NASA is preparing for the launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, an international partnership that is the first launch of a constellation of two identical satellites launched sequentially. Together, they will continue observations of sea level change for at least the next decade. The mission is targeted for launch Nov. 10 at 2:31 p.m. EDT (11:31 a.m. PDT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California. Sentinel-6 will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4, and the launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Named in honor of the former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, Dr. Michael Freilich, who was instrumental in advancing ocean altimetry, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich follows the most recent U.S.-European sea level observation satellite, Jason-3, which launched in 2016 and currently is providing high-precision and timely observations of the topography of the global ocean.

Sentinel-6 is part of Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation program managed by the European Commission. The Copernicus Sentinel-6 missions are being jointly developed by ESA (European Space Agency), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding support from the European Commission (EC) and support from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).

NASA’s contributions to the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS missions are three science instruments for each of the two Sentinel-6 satellites: the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the GNSS-RO, and the Laser Retroreflector Array. NASA is also contributing launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA science instruments, the science data processors for two of these instruments, and support for the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.

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