The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite sits on a ready-to-launch launch pad tomorrow, Saturday, November 21, 2020, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. Sentinel-6 is designed to monitor oceans around the world and will be followed in 2025 by a dual satellite called Sentinel-6B. The spacecraft will expand the record of global measurements of global sea level rise spanning three decades.
Sentinel 6 It also has tools to collect atmospheric data to improve weather forecasting, climate models and hurricane tracking. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is named after former NASA Director of Earth Sciences Michael Freilich and was built in collaboration between the United States and Europe. Sentinel-6 will be pushed into orbit over the SpaceX Falcon 9 missile, with the launch target at around 9:17 AM PDT.
If the weather is not suitable for launch tomorrow, NASA has backup launch dates chosen in the following days, with the launch window landing roughly 12 minutes earlier each day. As SpaceX has done for so long, the first-stage rocket will begin its robotic burn to return to Earth for later reuse.
After the separation of the first stage, the second stage will be launched to continue moving the satellite into orbit. The second stage will launch a second time 45 minutes after the first to put the satellite into waiting orbit. About an hour after launch, the solar panels will begin deploying, and the first contact of Sentinel-6 is expected to occur 25 minutes after the solar panels are deployed.
NASA will begin providing launch coverage at 8:45 AM PDT on Nov 21. You can watch the coverage online Here. Sentinel-6 and Sentinel-6B are part of the Sentinel-6 / Jason-CS mission developed by the European Space Agency. It was designed as part of the European Copernicus Program led by the European Commission, the European Organization for Exploiting Meteorological Satellites, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.