Metop Launch Advisory

From: Gerhard HOLTKAMP (
Date: Sun Jul 09 2006 - 17:20:06 EDT

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    A week from now on 17-JUL-06 the European polar orbiting weather satellite 
    Metop is scheduled for launch with a Soyuz FG/Fregat at 16:28:10 UTC from 
    Baikonur. The nominal Metop orbit is a 817 km circular 98.8 deg 
    Sun-synchronous (9:30 local time descending node) orbit. 
    The initial insertion above the Arctic is into a 170 km x 820 km, 98.73 orbit. 
    Metop and the Fregat upper stage will fly across North America (in plain 
    daylight, I'm afraid) and then toward Antarctica where a second Fregat burn 
    between 17:30:07 and 17:31:54 UTC will circularize the orbit. The following 
    TLE set could be used for that stretch:
    Metop FG1
    1 99999U 06099A   06198.70138889  .00000028  00000-0  26562-4 0     1
    2 99999  98.7339 257.5549 0472873  94.5807  16.0366 15.24018123     1
    Metop / Fregat seperation should occur at 17:37 UTC (17-JUL-06) after which 
    the following TLE set should work:
    Metop Sep
    1 99999U 06099A   06198.73395324  .00000028  00000-0  26562-4 0       1
    2 99999  98.7337 257.5914 0024535 156.6977 131.5842 14.21428546     1
    Metop would become visible to observers in Eastern Europe after one orbit and 
    then further toward the West on consecutive orbits.
    1:45 hours after lift off the seperated Fregat is scheduled to lower its 
    orbit. The following is an approximate TLE set which might help locating the 
    Fregat until better data become available from Spacetrack:
    Fregat Sep
    1 99999U 06099B   06198.75962963  .00000028  00000-0  26562-4 0     1
    2 99999  98.7348 257.6170 0109705 239.2433 180.3550 14.44321842     1
    Should the launch be delayed the time of day of the launch will remain the 
    The spacecraft to be launched is Metop-2 (the second flight model. Metop-1 
    remains in storage until being launched in a few years). After reaching orbit 
    it will get the designation Metop A. Note that this is the opposite of what 
    NOAA does (their satellites have a letter before launch and get a number once 
    in orbit). I guess it's a scheme by the various space agencies to confuse 
    each other!
    A few hours after launch (as far as I know) Metop will deploy some 
    (scattering) Radar antennae. Photos show them as shiny reflecting surfaces 
    and I think we might see some Iridium-like flares from them. I will put some 
    details about that into another posting.
    Gerhard HOLTKAMP
    Darmstadt, Germany
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