Joy as Astrium satellite launched

LAUNCHED The Metop-B satellite
LAUNCHED The Metop-B satellite
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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ASTRIUM workers in Portsmouth have celebrated the launch of a new weather satellite part-built at the firm’s Anchorage Park site.

Around 100 staff gathered to watch a live video feed of the Metop-B satellite being blasted into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday night.

The satellite will now orbit the Earth for the next five years, and will constantly stream back live data and information to be used to produce more accurate weather forecasts and measure climate change.

Astrium’s Portsmouth plant, which employs 1,000 people, designed and built the satellite’s microwave humidity sounder, which scans the Earth’s atmosphere to measure radiation, and from that determine water vapour content at various altitudes so meteorologists can predict rainfall and cloud cover.

Jeremy Close, spokesman for Astrium UK, watched the launch with members of the team in Portsmouth.

He said: ‘There was about 90 to 100 people there all watching the live stream. It was pretty exciting, there was a big cheer when it went.

‘It was good to see everything go according to plan.’

Metop-B is the second in a series of three satellites designed and built by Astrium on behalf of the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

The satellites’ mission is to track temperature, and humidity, trace gases, cloud height and coverage, monitor wind speed and direction above the surface of the seas, and measure ozone levels.