Schedule delays in first GMES Satellites
The development of the first two satellites being built for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program has fallen behind schedule by at least six months, according to an article of Spacenews published 1st April 2011. The Sentinel 1A and Sentinel 2A satellites will not be launched before 2013 and either late 2013 or early 2014, respectively. The Sentinel delays will force the ESA to operate the Envisat satellite until late 2014, to assure data continuity for users until the Sentinel spacecraft are in service.
The Sentinel delays have reduced a GMES budget shortfall of 400 million Euros. While extending Envisat’s life another year is costly, delaying the launch of Sentinel 1A and 2A by six months will mean the launch of their identical follow-on satellites, Sentinel 1B and Sentinel 2B, also will be delayed by six months. The launch of the B-model satellites was intended to occur 18 months after the A-model spacecraft were successfully in orbit. That 18-month interval will remain, meaning that the European Commission, which is sharing GMES costs with ESA, need not to finance the B-units’ launch services until around 2014. The commission currently has no money in its GMES budget to launch the B-unit satellites, which is why an early 2014 launch of these spacecraft posed a problem which is now less pressing.
A second GMES budget issue was resolved when the Commission agreed, in late 2010, to a fresh tranche of GMES financing of about 107 million Euros. Similarly, financing the launch of the B-units is viewed as assured in the Commission’s next financial plan starting in 2014. The European Commission is expected to dispose of a special line for space spending in its next multiyear budget starting in 2014. ESA and the Commission have estimated that operating and maintaining GMES, including the cost of regular replacement of the Sentinel satellites, will cost 600 million Euros per year on average.