A Russian Soyuz-2.1a rocket carrying a European weather satellite lifted off on Monday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said.
“The launch of the rocket with Fregat booster and MetOp-B satellite was carried out at 08.29 p.m. Moscow time [16.29 GMT],” a Roscosmos spokesman said.
The satellite separated from the Fregat booster and reached a designated orbit at 09.37 p.m. Moscow time [17.37 GMT], as scheduled.
MetOp-B is the second in a series of three European polar orbiting weather satellites, designed and manufactured by Astrium to provide a broad range of measurements vital to weather forecasting and climate monitoring.
Its predecessor, MetOp-A, was orbited in October 2006. The last satellite in the series, MetOp-C, is expected to be launched in 2017.
Weighing 4,100 kg, MetOp-B has been designed to operate in orbit for five years.
Each MetOp satellite carries a set of instruments provided by the United States and a new generation of European instruments that offer improved remote sensing capabilities to both meteorologists and climatologists.
They alone possess the capability to provide a continual flow of weather and climate data spanning the whole planet, according to the European Space Agency.