Washington, D.C. – NASA is targeting 11:17am CT (9:17am PT) Saturday, November 21st, 2020 for the launch of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, the first of two identical satellites to head into Earth orbit five years apart to continue sea level observations for at least the next decade.
Live launch coverage will begin at 10:45am ET (8:45am PT), on NASA Television and the agency’s website, with prelaunch and science briefings the day before on November 20th.
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will head into orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.
The launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California manages the agency’s contribution to the mission.
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is named in honor of the former director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, who was instrumental in advancing space-based ocean measurements. It follows the most recent U.S.-European sea level observation satellite, Jason-3, which launched in 2016 and is currently providing high-precision and timely observations of the topography of the global ocean.
The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission, consisting of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and Sentinel-6B satellites, is being jointly developed by ESA (European Space Agency), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding support from the European Commission and support from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).
The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission is part of Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation program, managed by the European Commission. Continuing the legacy of the Jason series missions, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will extend the records of sea level into their fourth decade, collecting accurate measurements of sea surface height for more than 90% of the world’s oceans, and providing crucial information for operational oceanography, marine meteorology, and climate studies. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich’s twin, Sentinel-6B, is scheduled to launch in 2025.
NASA’s contributions to the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission are three science instruments for each of the two satellites: the Advanced Microwave Radiometer, the Global Navigation Satellite System – Radio Occultation, and the Laser Retroreflector Array.
NASA is also contributing launch services, ground systems supporting operation of the NASA science instruments, the science data processors for two of these instruments, and support for the U.S. members of the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Friday, November 20th
2:30pm – Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Science Briefing with the following participants:
- Karen St. Germain, director, NASA Earth Science Division
- Craig Donlon, project scientist, ESA
- Remko Scharroo, project scientist, EUMETSAT
- Josh Willis, project scientist, JPL
- Deirdre Byrne, oceanographer, NOAA
- Luanne Thompson, oceanographer, University of Washington
4:00pm – Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Prelaunch News Conference with the following participants:
- Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
- Johann-Dietrich Wörner, director-general, ESA (prerecorded remarks)
- Pierrik Vuilleumier, project manager, ESA
- Tim Dunn, NASA launch director, Launch Services Program, Kennedy
- Parag Vaze, project manager, JPL
- Julianna Scheiman, program manager for NASA Launch Services, SpaceX
- Col. Anthony Mastalir, Commander, 30th Space Wing and Western Launch and Test Range, VAFB
- Capt. John Ott, weather officer, 30th Space Wing, VAFB
6:30pm – NASA TV live prelaunch coverage begins with NASA Edge show
Saturday, November 21st
10:45am – NASA TV live launch coverage begins
Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321.867.1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, “mission audio,” the launch conductor’s countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321.867.7135.
Virtual NASA Social
As we finalize launch preparations, we are excited to invite the public to join our virtual NASA Social (https://fb.me/e/1bC2vFNls). Stay up to date on the latest mission activities; interact with NASA, NOAA, ESA, and EUMETSAT team members in real time; and watch the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will boost Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich into orbit for its journey #SeeingTheSeas
Virtual Launch Passport
Print, fold, and get ready to fill your virtual launch passport. Stamps will be emailed following launches to all registrants (who submit an email registration via Eventbrite). Passports available now:
Watch and Engage on Social Media
Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #SeeingTheSeas and tag these accounts:
For more information, visit: