• 06.05.2021
  • Space
  • Media release

"Made in Zurich": Basic structure for new generation of weather satellites


​​​​​​​Six metres high, weighting 1000 kilograms and assembled from over 24,000 parts: These are the dimensions of the second generation of European weather satellites, which in future will collect weather data some 800 kilometres above us. The basic structure of the second flight model was assembled in RUAG Space's clean rooms in Zurich and is now being delivered to customers by special 31-metre transport. There it will be fitted with various measuring instruments. The launch of the satellite, named MetOp-SG 1B, is planned for 2025.

RUAG Space is the leading European supplier of lightweight structures that are essential for building satellites. Now RUAG Space is supplying the second of six flight models for the second generation of weather satellites (Second Generation; Meteorological Operational Satellite), which provide weather images and films for weather forecasts day after day. The new generation of weather satellites is designed to make weather forecasting even more accurate and to better predict extreme weather situations.

Six metres high and 1000 kilograms "light

The six-metre high and 1000-kilogram "light" basic structure was developed by RUAG Space in Zurich and assembled from over 24,000 parts. These not only have to withstand hard loads during launch, but are also exposed to extreme temperatures and temperature fluctuations as well as vacuum conditions in space. But the structures also have to be as light as possible to save fuel. The structures owe their lightness to their construction as a "sandwich" with a core of aluminum honeycomb bonded to cover layers of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.

Launch of satellite planned for 2025

Early morning of 06.05.2021, the second out of six airworthy basic structure was delivered by special transport to the customer Airbus Defence & Space in Friedrichshafen. It is well protected in the process: The air-conditioned container weighs over 16 tonnes and protects the satellite structure from contamination and vibrations during the journey. The launch of the satellite named MetOp-SG 1B is planned for 2025.

The European weather satellite programme MetOp Second Generation (SG)

Metop-SG is a cooperation programme between the European Space Agency ESA and EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Members of EUMETSAT are MeteoSwiss and numerous European meteorological organisations. The main contractor for the creation of the satellites is the company Airbus Defence & Space.