The EU has launched the first satellite as part of its Copernicus Earth observation program. Copernicus will provide a means of monitoring Earth's sub-systems, the atmosphere, oceans, and continental surfaces. The Sentinel 1A satellite was launched from French Guiana at 23:02 on Thursday April 3rd.
The satellite is the first of six that will be launched between 2014 and 2021. Following its successful launch, it performed what is described as, "a carefully choreographed 10-hour dance routine to open its large radar antenna and solar wings." The two 10 m (33 ft) long solar wings and the 12 m (39 ft) long radar open in a specific sequence to minimize any risk. They are folded up during launch for protection.
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Copernicus views the launch of Sentinel 1A as "a significant achievement" for the program itself, for European Space Policy and for the European Union, which is using its broader space program as means of generating growth in the coming years.
"Thanks to Sentinel 1A, the first of a constellation of satellites dedicated to the Copernicus program, brand new eyes will observe our living Earth as never before and these eyes will be European," says European Commission Vice President AntonioTajani. "The data provided by this satellite will enable considerable progress in improving maritime security, climate change monitoring and providing support in emergency and crisis situations."
You can watch the launch in the video below.