With a launch scheduled in 2021, ESA's MTG-I mission is making great progress. It has now passed tests showing that it will be able to stand up to the stress of liftoff.
As prime contractor for Meteosat Third Generation (MTG), Thales Alenia Space was heavily involved in preparing and carrying out these tests, which saw the MTG-I Satellite Structural model shaken, shocked, subjected to intense noise, and weighed and measured to within a millimeter of its life !
“Now that the satellite model has been thoroughly tested we can move forward with confidence in the satellite assembly, integration and testing process,” said Antoine Rérolle, MTG-I Program Manager. “We can be very proud of the work done by all the engineers and technicians who made this success possible.”
Direct benefits down on Earth
Satellites play a critical role in understanding our planet, since they offer unrivaled capabilities. Weather forecasting is undoubtedly the best-known application, but the use of this data extends far beyond just the convenience of knowing whether it’s going to rain tomorrow! Accurate weather forecasts harbor tremendous economic and social benefits, including more efficient farming, transportation and energy usage, as well as enhanced personal safety. At Thales Alenia Space, our advanced satellite technologies, especially for Earth observation, help improve our understanding of how the planet functions.
The world leader in geostationary meteorology
Thales Alenia Space is a global center of excellence in meteorology, having built all European meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit (36,000 km). Our expertise reaches back to 1977. We built seven first-generation Meteosat satellites, four second-generation models (MSG) and, along with partners OHB and Leonardo, we will supply six new third-generation satellites: four imaging satellites, and two atmospheric sounders. Moreover, the company plays a key role on the MTG ground segment, together with Telespazio.
In addition to its role as MTG prime contractor, leading the industrial consortium building the MTG family, Thales Alenia Space is responsible for the MTG-I imaging satellite, including the primary payload, the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI). The satellites will also offer a brand-new infrared sounding capability (MTG-S) and imaging of global lightning (MTG-I), to provide early warning of severe storms.
The MTG-I program now enters a two-year assembly, integration and testing (AIT) phase. The flight platform was delivered by our partner OHB in early summer 2019. The instruments and payload electronics will now be integrated and tested as they are delivered to Thales Alenia Space. The major next milestone will be the delivery of the Flexible Combined Imager, a state-of-the-art telescope, by autumn 2020, kicking off the final stage of satellite testing. This will include environmental testing, where we simulate the orbital vacuum and extreme temperatures.
”The successful completion of this process will mark a major step forward in the construction of these state-of-the-art satellites, with a launch of the first MTG Imager satellite now scheduled for late 2021. This will allow the continuity of the operational Meteosat service for the 20 years to come, thanks to a staged deployment strategy of the satellites involving in-orbit and on-ground spares. The following launch will be that of the MTG Sounder satellite by 2023, ensuring a new sounding mission which we hope will eventually become part of the operational service,” said Jean-Michel Reix, Thales Alenia Space MTG Program Director.
Paul Blythe, ESA’s Meteosat Program Manager, added: “Successful completion of the MTG-I Satellite Structural model campaign is another major step towards realizing this complex mission, and is another demonstration of the excellent work being undertaken by the MTG Core Team (Thales Alenia Space and OHB) with a bit of help from ESA! Slowly but surely the first flight MTG satellites are taking shape, there are still many challenges, but with the continued cooperation from all parties a launch of the first (MTG-I) satellite in 2021 still remains possible. Thanks to all in industry for your continued commitment and effort to the Project.”
Copyrights: Thales Alenia Space/ESA