22 November 2013 – The Swarm satellite mission – developed and built by Astrium, the world’s second largest space company – has been successfully launched from a Rockot launch vehicle, which carried the three magnetic-field research satellites into space from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome (approx. 800 km north of Moscow) today at 1.02 PM CET. The Swarm satellites were placed on their orbits approximately 92 minutes after launching.
Over a period of at least four years, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm mission will measure the Earth’s magnetic field and its development with previously unattained accuracy. The findings will improve our understanding of the Earth’s interior and how it interacts with space. An improved understanding of the magnetic field also has significant practical uses. In particular, it is anticipated that this research will ultimately contribute to more precise navigation with compasses or gyros, which can improve, for example, directional drilling in resource exploitation. In addition, it is expected to help improve space weather models.
Astrium is the prime contractor for ESA’s Swarm satellite trio. Eurockot Launch Services, an Astrium subsidiary, is responsible for the launch.