- The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich arrived in California from Munich this weekend
- The satellite is said to be the result of a "historic U.S.-European partnership"
- It will monitor the Earth's waters and collect sea level measurements
A new ocean-observing satellite from Europe has finally arrived in the U.S. ahead of its November launch.
After a two-day journey from Munich, Germany, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite safely arrived at the Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sept. 24 at 1:40 p.m. EDT.
"The spacecraft had a smooth trip from Europe and is in good shape," mission project manager Parag Vaze, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a NASA news release. "Final preparations are underway to see the satellite safely into Earth orbit in a little under seven weeks."
NASA says the satellite, which is named after the former director of NASA's Earth Science Division Dr. Michael Freilich, is the result of a "historic U.S.-European partnership" as it is developed in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). In another news release, the ESA says the satellite is expected to continue the legacy of the Jason series of satellites.
Once in orbit, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will map 90% of the Earth's ice-free ocean in order to gather critical information on climate and global sea levels. The satellite will be able to measure sea surface height measurements "down to the centimeter."
"As one of the most severe consequences of climate change, global sea levels are rising and putting millions of people at risk," the director of Earth Observation Programmes at ESA, Josef Aschbacher, said in the news release. "The Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission will take the lead in providing measurements of sea level so that rising trends can be monitored and key information can be supplied for important policy decisions."
In the weeks to follow, the satellite will be fueled, subjected to final testing to make sure it is indeed ready to be launched and mounted on top of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which is scheduled for liftoff from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 2:31 p.m. EDT on Nov. 10. This makes Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich the first ESA-developed satellite to hitch a ride aboard the Falcon 9.
The satellite's identical twin, Sentinel-6B, is set to be launched in 2025.
"The Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission is a true example of international cooperation," the ESA news release states. "While Sentinel-6 is one of the European Union's family of Copernicus missions, its implementation is the result of the unique collaboration between ESA, NASA, EUMETSAT and NOAA, with support from CNES French space agency."
This is not the first such international cooperation as NASA and other space agencies have been collaborating for various projects for years, such as the Solar Orbiter satellite. Among these collaborations, the International Space Station (ISS) is said to be the "most politically complex" program with multiple nations and organizations cooperating for the program.