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Jason-3 in the starting blocks

The Jason-3 operational oceanographic satellite will be launched on January 17, 2016 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Jason-3 was built through an international quadripartite partnership between Eumetsat, NOAA, and the French and American space agencies, CNES and NASA, respectively. CNES is program prime contractor. Thales Alenia Space is industrial architect, supplying the Proteus platform and the Poseidon-3B altimeter, as well as handling satellite assembly, integration and testing (AIT).

Jason-3 will continue providing high-precision ocean topography measurements in line with its predecessors, Jason-1 and Jason-2. Jason-3 will be positioned in the same orbit as Jason-2 (still in operation), at an altitude of 1,336 km, with an inclination of 66°. This highly inclined position will allow it to monitor some 95% of ice-free ocean surfaces every ten days. It will weigh 553 kg at launch, and offers 550 W of electrical power.

Another operational oceanographic satellite built by Thales Alenia Space, Sentinel-3A, is now being prepared for a launch planned in the coming weeks, from the Plesetsk Space Center in Russia.