Capitol Momentum - Jan 2023

NASA Awards SpaceX Launch Services Contract for Sentinel-6B

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ibadan, 22 December 2022. – NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide launch services for the Sentinel-6B mission. Sentinel-6B will continue the long-term global sea level data record begun in 1992 by Topex/Poseidon, followed by Jason 1, 2, 3, and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich. The mission is a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).

This is a firm-fixed-price contract with a value of approximately $94 million, which includes launch services and other mission-related costs. The current schedule will see the Sentinel-6B mission launch in November 2025 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Sentinel-6B will use a radar altimeter to bounce signals off the ocean surface and deliver continuity of ocean topography measurements. The mission will also collect high-resolution vertical temperature profiles using the Global Navigation Satellite System Radio-Occultation sounding technique to assess temperature changes in Earth’s atmosphere and improve weather prediction models.

Together with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the satellites make up the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission, which ESA developed in the context of the European Copernicus program led by the European Commission, EUMETSAT, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with funding support from the European Commission and technical support from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).

NASA’s Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for program management of the SpaceX launch services. The Sentinel-6B project office is at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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