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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 3 April 2014

Earth observation: Copernicus satellite ready for launch

The European Commission is looking forward to the launch of Sentinel 1A, the first satellite dedicated to Copernicus, today from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Lift off is scheduled for 23:02 Brussels time. It will be possible to watch the launch on web streaming:

Copernicus, the EU's Earth Observation Programme, will ensure the regular observation and monitoring of Earth sub-systems, the atmosphere, oceans, and continental surfaces, and will provide reliable, validated and guaranteed information in support of a broad range of environmental and security applications and decisions (MEMO/14/251). This launch marks a major milestone for Copernicus. Dedicated earth observation data will become available for operational services immediately.

Copernicus will support the vital tasks of monitoring our environment and security by providing Earth observation data. The data provided by this satellite will enable considerable progress in improving maritime security, climate change monitoring and providing support in emergency and crisis situations.

European Commission Vice President @AntonioTajaniEU, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship said: “Space is a priority for the Union; the budget for both European flagship space programmes, Copernicus and Galileo, for the next seven years is secured. Almost €12 billion will be invested in space technologies. It is my priority to make sure that this budget will multiply the benefits that European citizens will reap from our space programmes."

Sentinel 1

Sentinel-1 is the first of the six missions in the framework of the Copernicus initiative. The Sentinel-1 mission is composed of a constellation of two polar-orbiting satellites, Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B, sharing the same orbital plane, operating day and night, performing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging.

Sentinel-1A is operated in four imaging modes with different resolution (down to 10 m) and coverage (up to 250 km), offering reliable, and repeated wide area monitoring. It is designed to work in a pre-programmed operation mode, imaging all global landmasses, coastal zones and shipping routes at high resolution, covering the global ocean. This ensures the reliability of service required by operational services and a consistent long term data archive built for applications based on long time series.

Sentinel-1A services include applications such as:

  • Monitoring sea ice zones and the Arctic environment

  • Surveillance of marine environment, including oil-spill monitoring and ship detection for maritime security

  • Monitoring land surface motion risks

  • Mapping of land surfaces: forest, water and soil, sustainable agriculture

  • Mapping in support of humanitarian aid in crisis situations

  • Climate monitoring

Copernicus Regulation

The Copernicus Regulation, for which a political agreement has already been achieved by the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, defines Copernicus objectives, governance and funding (some €4.3 billion) for the period 2014-2020.

Copernicus opens up business opportunities

Copernicus will also help Europe's enterprises to create new jobs and business opportunities, namely services for environmental data production and dissemination, as well as supporting the space industry itself. Indirectly, a variety of other economic sectors will be able to take advantage of accurate and reliable Earth observation data, such as transport, oil and gas, insurance and agriculture.

Studies show that Copernicus could generate a financial benefit of some €30 billion and create around 50,000 jobs in Europe by 2030. Moreover, the open dissemination regime for Copernicus data and service information will help citizens, businesses, researchers and policy makers to integrate an environmental dimension into all their activities and decision-making procedures.

Already today, space activities foster the development of a market for satellite-enabled products and services, providing the highly qualified jobs which our industry will need in order to thrive now and in the future.

For more information:

IP/14/78 Eurobarometer on Europeans' attitudes to Space Activities

Copernicus on Europa


Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52) Twitter: @ECspokesCorazza

Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)

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