Cape Canaveral / Oberpfaffenhofen / Bremen, April 1, 2022. What a picture perfect launch: The EnMAP hyperspectral satellite developed and built at OHB was launched from Cape Canaveral (Florida) on time at 18:24 CEST on board a Falcon 9 rocket from US space company SpaceX. Everything went as planned: The satellite separated from its launch vehicle just 15 minutes after lift-off. First contact was established over a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, 60 minutes later.
"I am overwhelmed that our satellite has arrived safely in space and is communicating with us as expected. I am extremely grateful to the entire EnMAP team for their extraordinary team effort over many years. SpaceX brought our satellite to its position at an altitude of 650 km with a picture-perfect launch," says Peter Honold, EnMAP project manager at OHB System AG, adding: "But now the actual mission is just getting off the ground and I hope that EnMAP will reveal completely new insights into the state of our planet over the next few years. We only have this one Earth and should do everything we can to protect it."
In Florida, the OHB team watched the launch live from Space Launch Complex 40 on the grounds of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB System AG, was delighted with the successful lift-off: "Watching our satellite lift off into space on SpaceX's Falcon-9 was a special moment. My thanks goes to everyone at OHB and to our partners who have worked so hard over the years to carry out this highly complex mission." The launch of EnMAP marked the beginning of a new era in Earth observation, said Fuchs. "I am proud and happy that we are helping to gain comprehensive knowledge about our Earth with the hyperspectral data from our satellite. In the fight against climate change, EnMAP will provide valuable data that will help us to better understand the effects of ongoing global warming on land and water, even more precisely than ever before.”
In Germany the OHB teams in Bremen and at the Space Center “Optics and Science” in Oberpfaffenhofen, who had spent years working on and building the satellite, followed the launch live on large screens. Chiara Pedersoli, member of the Management Board of OHB System AG, opened the internal launch events and thanked the employees for their commitment to this special mission.
The EnMAP environmental satellite is the first hyperspectral satellite developed and built in Germany. With its two spectrometers, which have 242 recording bands in the wavelength range from 420 to 2450 nanometers, the satellite can record the solar radiation reflected from the Earth's surface from visible light to the short-wave infrared range in a spectral resolution not previously available. The hyperspectral data makes the invisible visible and can show, for example, which minerals are in an area, whether plants are sufficiently supplied with nutrients or soils are too dry, but also whether a body of water is contaminated with pollutants.
EnMAP – the German environmental mission and its partners
The EnMAP environmental mission is being lead-managed by the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bonn on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). OHB-System AG was awarded the contract for developing and engineering the satellite and the hyperspectral instrument. The mission is under the scientific direction of GeoForschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ). Three DLR institutes and facilities have been tasked with constructing and operating the ground segment: the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen will be carrying out and monitoring satellite operations, while the German Remote Sensing Data Center and the Remote Sensing Technology Institute will be responsible for archiving, processing and validating the satellite data and making it available for scientific research. Companies and government agencies will also be testing the data and preparing future services. The future use of EnMAP hyperspectral data by universities and scientific institutions and the development of special applications will be supported by funding programs initiated by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action (BMWK).