With two years before the launch, the path that the Metop-SG A and B weather satellites will follow into low Earth orbit is already set. The first of three rounds of System Validation Tests (SVT) needed to validate all the procedures for the LEOP operations with the satellites still on the ground was successfully completed recently.
The LEOP is one of the most crucial moments of a space mission and includes all the activities that the satellite performs from the moment of separation from the launcher until it arrives in its operational orbit. But besides being important for reaching full functionality, the LEOP is also fundamental for extending the mission as long as possible, and by optimizing the consumption of propellant to arrive at the final orbit, the operational life of the satellite can be extended, thus benefiting the services offered to the users.
For this, the Telespazio Flight Control team tested an important set of the foreseen LEOP procedures, both nominal and contingency, on the Metop-SG B satellite from the Fucino Space Centre control room. In particular, simulations of the automatic initialization sequence, the opening of the solar panels, the acquisition of the Earth tracking asset and orbital manoeuvres were performed during the four days of testing.
All the tests were done remotely while the satellite was still safely located in the clean room of Airbus’ Friedrichshafen site, who is responsible for building the 6 satellites that will make up the Metop-SG constellation. The same tests were instead performed on satellite A in July 2021 in Airbus’ Tolosa facility.
The next round of System Validation Tests is scheduled to be performed at the end of October on the Metop-SG satellite A at the Lario Space Centre in order to test Telespazio’s new back-up LEOP control room and also to check the procedures.
The launch of the Metop-SG satellite A is currently set for March 2025 and the Metop-SG satellite B is scheduled for December of that same year.
“The tests performed over the past few days are the conclusion of a full six months of preparation and once again demonstrates the outstanding work performed by the Telespazio engineers and the quality and stability of the Ground Segment developed for Metop-SG. The commitment and expertise of our team, working in close collaboration with Eumetsat, ESA and Airbus, confirm the excellent result obtained last December, when Telespazio managed the LEOP of the MTG-I1 satellite”.
Ernesto Cerone, Flight Operations Director
Apart from the ongoing activities in the EUMETSAT and ESA Metop - Second Generation program, which involves the launching of 6 different satellites equipped with innovative instruments to improve weather forecasting by observing Earth from a low orbit, Telespazio is also partnering with EUMETSAT in the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) program, where the first MTG-I1 element was launched last December and the preparations are currently underway for the launch of the MTG-S1 at the end of 2024.
Telespazio has a key role in the MTG program, both in the realization and management of the Ground Segment and in the satellite command and control operations.