In a meeting held on December 14 in Evry, France, representatives from Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a contract that binds the company to launch the Sentinel-2B and Sentinel-3B satellites aboard a Vega rocket.
Takeoff will occur from the new Vega installations at the Kourou Spaceport, in French Guiana, South America. The spacecraft need to be launched in the 2014-2016 time frame. The agreement represents the first contract for the newly-built Vega rocket class.
The light-lift delivery system will conduct its maiden voyage to space early next year. Preparations are well underway at Kourou, and the outcome of the new contract will depend on how well the vehicle flies.
Sentinel satellites are critical for the European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program, which seeks to keep an eye on the planet from multiple perspective simultaneously.