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Satnews Daily
July 6th, 2015

A Leading Role For RUAG Space With Eumetsat's MSG-4 Satellite

[SatNews] The fourth and final Meteosat Second Generation is ready to be launched into space.

The satellite is scheduled to take off from the European spaceport in Kourou on Wednesday, July 8 aboard a European Ariane 5 launcher. RUAG Space supplied a series of modules for this meteorological satellite, including the body and the data processing system. Moreover, RUAG Space supplied the thermal insulation, an UHF receiver, antennas, and a special electronic unit that controls the pyrotechnic removal of mechanical safeguards after the launch.

Eumetsat's MSG-4 satellite during launch preparations by Arianespace in Kourou.

Photo is courtesy of Eumetsat.

From their geostationary orbit at an altitude of 36,000 km, the Meteosats observe weather patterns primarily over Europe and have long become an indispensable part of our everyday lives. Entire economic sectors, such as agriculture, the construction industry, and tourism, benefit from the data provided by the Meteosats, which are operated by the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, Eumetsat.

The satellite now awaiting launch is the fourth satellite of the Meteosat Second Generation—MSG-4. Compared to the first Meteosats, MSGs are significantly more powerful, which permits greater weather forecasting accuracy. Second-generation satellites will be supplying Europe with weather data up to 2020, when they will be superseded by an even more powerful third generation, MTG (Meteosat Third Generation). Development is already underway, and RUAG Space will make a significant contribution to the construction of these new satellites.

RUAG Space supplied the satellite structure for the Meteosat. The structure is cylindrical, has a diameter of 3.20 m, and is made largely of aluminium. It forms the “backbone” of the satellite, housing not only the measuring instrument that supplies the weather data but also all other modules. The central data processing system of the meteorological satellite also comes from RUAG Space. On the one hand, this computer is responsible for processing measurement data; on the other hand, it also processes various data needed for controlling and operating the satellite. In addition, RUAG Space supplied the antennas that receive the control signals for the satellite. In space, the Meteosat is exposed to temperature fluctuations of up to 400 degrees C. Therefore, RUAG Space provides a special thermal insulation which protects the sensitive instruments on board from these temperatures.

During the launch, many components of the satellite are mechanically secured. Once the satellite has been released into orbit, these mechanical safeguards are opened by igniting small explosive charges. To carry out this task, RUAG Space supplied a special electronic unit that controls the removal of the safeguards.