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Eumetsat shifts two tardy satellites to Ariane 6

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WASHINGTON — Program delays have compelled Eumetsat to order a pair of Ariane 6 rockets for 2 European climate satellites initially anticipated to launch on Ariane 5 rockets. 

Eumetsat had signed a contract with Arianespace in 2015 to launch two or three Meteosat Third Era satellites on Ariane 5 rockets between 2019 and 2023. Of these satellites, just one, MTG-I1, will likely be accomplished earlier than Arianespace switches fully to Ariane 6 rockets. 

MTG-I1, an imaging satellite tv for pc, will launch on an Ariane 5 rocket in 2022, the final yr Ariane 5 will likely be accessible, Paul Counet, Eumetsat’s head of technique, communication and worldwide relations, instructed SpaceNews by e mail July 6. 

The sounding satellite tv for pc MTG-S1, for which Eumetsat had a agency Ariane 5 launch contract, is now scheduled to launch in 2023 on an Ariane 6, Eumetsat introduced July 2. The third satellite tv for pc, MTG-I2, for which Eumetsat had an Ariane 5 contract possibility, will now launch on an Ariane 6 in 2025, the company mentioned. 

Counet mentioned the change for each satellites “was triggered by the unavailability of Ariane 5 after 2022.”

Thales Alenia Area of France and Italy is constructing the MTG satellites utilizing platforms from German producer OHB. The businesses are constructing six MTG satellites in whole — 4 imagers and two sounders — with half launching within the 2020s and the opposite half launching within the 2030s. 

A Thales Alenia Area spokesperson mentioned “new technological challenges” found this yr with the devices for the primary two MTG satellites, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, delayed these satellites and had a knock-on impact on the third satellite tv for pc. 

OHB Head of Investor Relations Martina Lilienthal declined to touch upon the reason for the MTG manufacturing delays. The MTG satellites are primarily based on OHB’s SmallGEO bus, which has skilled delays with early builds. 

Counet mentioned Eumetsat plans to launch all three satellites with a co-passenger satellite tv for pc, although discussions are ongoing about utilizing the Ariane 62, the lighter model of Ariane 6 with two strap-on boosters, for the MTG-I2 satellite tv for pc, which might possible make it a standalone mission. 

MTG-S1 will launch on an Ariane 64, the extra highly effective model outfitted with 4 stable rocket boosters, he mentioned. 

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