A third European Metop weather satellite has been launched aboard an Arianespace Soyuz rocket. The launch was the 45th Soyuz mission undertaken by Arianespace and the European-Russian launch provider Starsem.
The Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Guiana Space Center at 00:47 UTC this morning. Following the launch, Arianespace confirmed on Twitter that the satellite had been deployed successfully into an 817-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit.
The Metop-C satellite is the third and final first generation Metop weather satellite. Along with the still operational Metop-A and B (launched in 2006 and 2012 respectively), the three satellites make up the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS). The polar-orbiting satellites provide detailed observations of the oceans, continents and the global atmosphere. In addition to carrying instruments developed by European partners, the Metop satellites carry a selection of legacy hardware supplied by the United States.
EUMETSAT plan to begin launching their second generation Metop-SG satellites in 2021. A total of six satellites are expected to make up the EPS-SG system with the final satellite projected to be launched in December 2036.