CryoSat Version 2

Artist impression of CryoSat. Image credit: ESAThe loss of CryoSat was a sad day for Earth observation. It was destroyed in October 2005 when an onboard flight-control system failed on a Russian Rockot launch vehicle. But engineers kept their plans, and the development of CryoSat version 2 is well underway. This replacement spacecraft is scheduled for launch in 2009, and will measure the thickness of land and sea ice to determine how quickly it’s melting away.

With this second try, mission planners have added a few new extras. The spacecraft will be carrying a backup for its main payload, the SAR/Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL). That means it needs a second set of electronics. More expensive, but it’ll have complete redundancy now. Some other design shortcomings were fixed, and the software has been improved to make the spacecraft easier to operate.

If all goes well, the spacecraft should be almost completely reassembled by late 2007, in preparation for its 2009 launch.

Original Source: ESA News Release