In addition to GOCE's launch last month, Cryosat-2 and SMOS are due for liftoff within 2009, with follow-on missions SWARM, ADM-Aeolus, and EarthCARE all under active preparation for launches in the 2010-2013 time frame.
In parallel, the Sentinel-1, -2 and -3 missions ground segment - the ground-based infrastructure that supports the satellite in orbit - is being developed as part of the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) Programme. An initial fleet of six satellites is to be launched between 2011 and 2015.
The Mission Family concept's intrinsic value was proven just prior to GOCE's launch, when the combined EO operations teams at ESOC were faced with a huge challenge: several critical validations for multiple missions had to be completed within the same tight timeframe.
These included the first System Validation Test for ADM-Aeolus, a closed-loop test for Cryosat-2's attitude and orientation control system, and a series of simulations for the then-pending GOCE launch.
Complex testing campaign creates 'huge challenge'
The complex testing campaign involved new procedures and software, including first operational use of the latest version of the SCOS-2000 mission control system, the standard software used to operate ESA missions.
For the ADM-Aeolus system validation test, the satellite itself, located at the manufacturer's facility at Astrium Stevenage, UK, was for the first time connected to the mission control system at ESOC.
In an intensive campaign, engineers sent some 9000 test commands to the satellite via landline, simulating a number of flight operations scenarios including solar array deployment, equipment failures, and anomaly recoveries.
"The traditional, individual 'one-satellite/one-team' approach would not have allowed us to achieve the objectives of this complex multi-mission test campaign. Pooling our
|Contact: Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin|
European Space Agency