Copernicus Sentinel-2C before loading into its container. Credits: Airbus

Airbus Shipped Copernicus Sentinel-2C to Kourou for Launch

Airbus-built Copernicus Sentinel-2C satellite heads to French Guiana for launch, continuing climate monitoring and environmental data collection from space

The Copernicus Sentinel-2C satellite, developed by Airbus, is set for its journey to the European spaceport in French Guiana. Following road transport from Airbus in Friedrichshafen to Bremen on July 2, the satellite was loaded onto Canopée, a sail-assisted cargo ship specifically designed for transporting Ariane 6 rocket components.

The ship will take approximately two weeks to reach its destination.

Copernicus Sentinel-2C before loading into its container. Credits: Airbus
Copernicus Sentinel-2C before loading into its container. Credits: Airbus

Marc Steckling, Head of Earth Observation, Science, and Exploration at Airbus, highlighted the importance of satellite data in climate change assessment and monitoring:“About half of the data used to assess and monitor the impact of climate change on Earth is actually delivered by satellites,” he stated.

Since 2015, the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites have provided invaluable climate information, and Sentinel-2C hopes to ensure the continuity of this crucial data. Steckling also noted the satellites’ role in monitoring marine litter, a significant environmental concern.


What Sentinel-2C will watch out for

The Sentinel-2 mission, part of the Copernicus Earth Observation component of the EU Space Programme, contributes to various environmental and humanitarian efforts. The data collected by the Sentinel-2 satellites is used for monitoring land use, soil sealing, agriculture, forestry, natural disasters, and humanitarian aid missions.

The satellites also play a key role in environmental monitoring, providing information on the pollution of lakes and coastal waters, and monitoring glaciers, ice, and snow.

In the agricultural sector, the Sentinel-2 mission supports food security management by providing critical data on crop conditions. The multispectral instrument aboard the satellites includes three bands in the “red edge,” offering key insights into vegetation health.

This data helps distinguish between different crop types and measure essential plant indices such as leaf area, chlorophyll content, and water content, which are crucial for accurate plant growth monitoring.

Sentinel-2C being loaded into Canopée cargo vessel, organised by CEVA Logistics. Credits: CEVA Logistics and ship loading team
Sentinel-2C being loaded onto the Canopée cargo vessel, organised by CEVA Logistics. Credits: CEVA Logistics and ship loading team

Sentinel-2C, similar to its predecessors Sentinel-2A and -2B, will offer “colour vision” for the Copernicus programme, generating optical images from the visible to the shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Operating from an altitude of 786 kilometres, the 1.1-tonne satellite will provide continuous imaging in 13 spectral bands with resolutions of 10, 20, or 60 metres, and a swath width of 290 kilometres. The MultiSpectral Instrument (MSI) on board has been optimized for high-quality image data, transmitted via Airbus’ laser-based SpaceDataHighway (EDRS).

The Sentinel-2 satellites have an advanced optical stability, achieved through the use of Silicon Carbide in the telescope structure and mirrors. This material minimizes thermo-elastic deformation, ensuring excellent geometric image quality. Each Sentinel-2 satellite collects 1.5 terabytes of data daily after on-board compression.


New satellites, continuing program

The Sentinel-2 mission operates a constellation of two identical satellites, Sentinel-2A (launched in 2015) and Sentinel-2B (launched in 2017), flying 180° apart in the same orbit. This configuration optimizes coverage and revisit time, allowing the satellites to cover all land surfaces, large islands, and inland and coastal waters every five days.

Sentinel-2C will replace Sentinel-2A, while Sentinel-2D will eventually replace Sentinel-2B, ensuring data continuity beyond 2035.

The Sentinel-2 mission results from close collaboration between the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA), industry, service providers, and data users, with Airbus Defence and Space in Germany leading the development involving around 60 companies.

The Copernicus Sentinels are a crucial component of the EU Space Programme’s Earth Observation segment, managed by the European Commission in partnership with ESA. Preparations for the launch of Copernicus Sentinel-2C on the final Vega rocket, operated by Arianespace, will commence in Kourou. The launch is scheduled for September.


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Edoardo Giammarino

Edoardo Giammarino

Co-Founder & CEO. Drummer and Red Cross Volunteer, born in 1997. I like analog photography and videomaking. Firmly music-addicted.

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