UAE scientists’ team with Falcon Eye 1 preparing for launch
UAE scientists’ team with Falcon Eye 1 preparing for launch. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The Monday launch of the UAE’s reconnaissance satellite ‘Falcon Eye 1’ has been pushed back once again due to high-altitude winds in French Guiana, Arianespace has announced.

The UAE’s fourth reconnaissance satellite was first set for its launch to space on Saturday at the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana. But due to bad weather conditions, the launch was pushed back to Monday at 5.53am UAE time.

Weather conditions remained a challenge for the launch on Monday, however.

“As high-altitude winds above the Guiana Space Center remain unfavorable, Arianespace has taken the decision not to attempt a launch on Sunday, July 7, 2019 [Monday in UAE]. The new target date will be announced as soon as possible based on the evolution of weather conditions,” the spaceport said in a statement.

“The Vega launch vehicle and its Falcon Eye 1 spacecraft payload are in stable and safe conditions.”

Winds coming from the East-southeast blew at 4km/h with gusts of 11km/h on Sunday night in French Guiana, according to Accuweather.

Weather conditions are a huge consideration during satellite launches. Clear skies and calmer conditions are needed for successful launches. Temperature, precipitation, lightning and winds, among other factors are looked into hours and even minutes before launch.

Flight VV15 with its payload the Falcon Eye 1 satellite will be rescheduled as soon as favourable weather is seen.

The Falcon Eye 1 satellite is a high performance optical Earth-observation satellite system for the Armed Forces of the UAE (UAEAF) manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor and Thales Alenia Space as co-prime.

A second satellite, the Falcon Eye 2, is scheduled for launch this year. Both satellites are in Sun- synchronous orbit (SSO), meaning it will travel from pole to pole to take images as the Earth rotates.

Each satellite features an Earth observation payload, with very-high-resolution optical capabilities of 70cm resolution across 20km swathe. It is also equipped with a ground system for monitoring, receiving and processing the images.

Once in orbit at 611km above Earth, Emirati engineers will control and operate the 1,197kg-satellite.

Airbus Defence and Space was in charge of the satellite design, integration and tests, and supplied the platform.