VP Tajani: The countdown to the launch of the first Copernicus satellite has begun
In Rome today the European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani presented Sentinel-1A, the first satellite of the EU Copernicus Programme that will fly in outer space. The satellite has been assembled in Rome and will soon be transported to Cannes for pre-launch testing. The launch will likely take place in April or May of 2014 on a SOYUZ rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. Once it is operational, Sentinel 1A will circle the Earth in Low Earth Orbit (at an altitude of around 700 km) and will provide continuous, systematic, highly reliable radar imaging of the Earth. It will operate day and night, sweeping the whole globe, imaging landmasses, coastal zones and shipping routes at high resolution. Seeing through darkness, rain and clouds, it will monitor sea ice and the Arctic environment; survey marine oil-spills; and detect ships in coastal zones for maritime security, helping prevent tragic boat accidents like the one off the island of Lampedusa. It will also spur the growth of the observation service industry, contribute to climate monitoring, as well as provide support in emergency and crisis situations.