The load-out of the AEOLUS satellite on the ro-ro ship Ciudad de Cadiz at the Montoir de Bretagne ro-ro terminal was a first in several ways.
This was the first time that an aerospace industry product has transited the French port of Nantes – Saint Nazaire. Furthermore, it was the first time the Airbus Group transported one of its satellites aboard one of its own vessels.
One of the ro-ro vessels managed by the Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) Group and chartered to the Airbus Group, Ciudad de Cadiz usually transports aircraft sections and components.
Designed by Airbus Space and Defence for the European Space Agency (ESA), the AEOLUS satellite is bound for Kourou, in French Guiana and is due to arrive on June 28.
The satellite’s measuring instruments are extremely sensitive and could be damaged in the event of a sudden loss of pressure. That is why Airbus preferred the maritime solution over transportation by air, making use of its maritime logistics organisation, which is entrusted to its service provider LD Seaplane, a LDA subsidiary.
Brought to the Monitor de Bretagne ro-ro terminal from Toulouse, where it had been undergoing a final series of inspections at the InterSpace test centre, the AEOLUS satellite was placed on a trailer, then rolled with the great care aboard the vessel, along with its component parts, which were packed into six shipping containers.
The 1.33-tonne satellite comes with some innovative technology. It is equipped with the very first LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) space instrument named ‘Aladdin’, which uses the Doppler effect to measure wind speed at different altitudes.
AEOLUS is the first satellite that is capable of observing wind profiles on a global scale. It will make 15 daily rotations around the Earth. The collected data will provide reliable information about wind profiles, information which is required by meteorologists in order to improve the accuracy of their forecasts, and which will enable climatologists to better understand the general dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere.