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Meteosat Satellite

Volume 977: debated on Monday 28 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects the European Space Agency's satellite Meteosat to be functioning again.

The nature of the fault and the impossibility of direct access to Meteosat mean that there is no certain method of rectifying it. Arrangements are in hand to launch the second Meteosat in the autumn.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has received any representations regarding the non-operability of the European Space Agency's satellite Meteosat; and if he will make a statement.

In November last year, after the second anniversary of its very successful operation in orbit, the experimental Meteosat 1 failed owing to an electrical fault which it has not been possible to correct. The analysis of the problem is being performed in great depth in view of the possible impact on Meteosat 2, which is expected to be launched in September this year. Nevertheless, the commitment of Meteosat 1 to the world weather watch programme and the global atmospheric research programme (GARP) was only until the end of 1979.The Department has been in frequent contact with the Meteorological Office, which is the principle user of the Meteosat output in this country. The office has expressed great regret at the loss of the image data which are of considerable value for forecasting including TV presentations and for research purposes. Similar regrets have been expressed by other users of Meteosat data.However, the Meteorological Office, in common with other users, has been kept well-informed by the European Space Agency about what is known of the nature of the faults in Meteosat. I am assured that all reasonable steps are being taken by the European Space Agency to rectify them.Despite this failure, Meteosat is continuing to perform its important secondary funcion of collecting data from various remote stations.