Arianespace launch Morocco’s second earth observation satellite, Mohammed VI-B

Arianespace launched a rocket from French Guiana carrying Morocco’s second earth observation satellite, the European launch company said.

The satellite, named Mohammed VI-B, was developed by Thales Alenia Space and Airbus, Arianespace said in a statement.

It will be mainly used for mapping, land surveying, agricultural monitoring, prevention and management of natural disasters, monitoring changes in the environment and desertification as well as border and coastal surveillance.

Arianespace, majority-owned by a joint venture of Airbus and Safran, launched Morocco’s first earth observation satellite, Mohammed VI-A, last November.

It will be mainly used for mapping, land surveying, agricultural monitoring, prevention and management of natural disasters, monitoring changes in the environment and desertification as well as border and coastal surveillance, it said.

ALLAS — An Arianespace Vega rocket launched the Mohammed 6-B satellite for Morocco the evening of Nov. 20, placing the satellite in the same orbit as its twin satellite Mohammed 6-A that launched a year ago, also on a Vega rocket.

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Liftoff occurred at 8:42 p.m. Eastern from the European spaceport in French Guiana on the northern coast of South America. The 1,100-kilogram satellite separated from the rocket in low Earth orbit about 55 minutes later.

The launch completes Morocco’s two-satellite constellation for Earth observation. The country plans to use the satellites for purposes including land mapping, natural-disaster prevention and management, environmental monitoring and border surveillance.

The Mohammed 6-B launch is Arianespace’s ninth mission of the year and second with the light-lift Vega rocket. Airbus Defence and Space built the satellite platform while Thales Alenia Space supplied the payload and the ground segment for image processing.

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Vega now has a track record of 13 launches, all of which have been successful.

Vega will not have any more missions this year due to delays earlier this year with the European Space Agency’s wind-mapping Aeolus satellite. Giulio Ranzo, CEO of Avio, the manufacturer of Vega rockets, said the delay of Aeolus from March to August pushed out a third Vega mission to next year.

“The schedule moved due to customer issues,” he said in an interview.

Vega’s next launch will be in late January or early February for the Italian Space Agency, Ranzo said.

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Arianespace’s next launch is of an Ariane 5 rocket in December with the Indian space agency’s GSAT-11 telecom satellite and the Korean Aerospace Research Institute’s GEO-Kompsat-2A weather satellite.

About the Author

Darek Liam
Darek Liam is the North African editor for AMB, where he writes about the intersection of Technology and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as African Union correspondent.

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