New Metop Launch Attempt

From: Gerhard HOLTKAMP (
Date: Fri Oct 13 2006 - 14:13:09 EDT

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    After the scrubbed launch attempts three months ago and some further problems 
    Metop is now scheduled for liftoff at 16:28:13 UTC on 17-OCT-06 from the 
    Baikonur Cosmodrome. After a daylight pass over North America and a 
    circularization burn over Antarctica seperation between Metop and the Fregat 
    upper stage should take place at 17:37 UTC. The following TLE set is valid 
    from that moment:
    Metop Sep                               
    1 99999  06099A   06290.73399421 0.00000000  00000-0  34635-4 0     1
    2 99999  98.7320 348.2812 0001000 155.4951 132.7896 14.21435203     1
    Half an hour after separation the Fregat stage is supposed to lower its 
    perigee by about 100 km. Here is an approximate TLE set for searching the 
    Fregat valid from 18:13 UTC (17-OCT-06):
    Fregat R/B                              
    1 99999  06099B   06290.75917824 0.00000000  00000-0  11888-4 0     1
    2 99999  98.7331 348.3063 0069368 236.4604 180.6236 14.35753113     1
    Compared to three months ago the conditions for observing Metop are now very 
    different. Mid-northern lattitudes are in their final days before the *winter 
    blackout* while conditions on the southern hemisphere are now getting better 
    from day to day. The biggest winners are high northern lattitudes which enjoy 
    dark skies again after the bright summer nights with good visibilities of 
    Metop (and satellites in similar orbits like Envisat). Correspondingly the 
    Metop flares which I predicted will now be shifted to locations higher than 
    52 degrees latitude (if they actually do exist!). 
    On its second orbit there might be a chance to observe flares from northwest 
    Germany (19:55:47 UTC, 17-OCT-06, Osnabruck) and the Norwegian coast 
    (19:58:05 UTC, Stavanger) but at that time only a coarse alignment attitude 
    is flown so I would expect surprises. A day later (18-OCT-06) flares might be 
    observed from locations close to Moscow, Berlin, Copenhagen and Oslo but it's 
    a good idea to wait for the actual launch to take place before going into 
    details about that.
    Gerhard HOLTKAMP
    Darmstadt, Germany
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