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A European Space Agency Satellite Is Loaded on Board Ship at the Montoir Ro-Ro Terminal

AEOLUSAn exceptional loading operation was carried out on 15th June 2018 at the Montoir de Bretagne ro-ro terminal. Designed by Airbus Space and Defence for the European Space Agency (ESA), the AEOLUS satellite was loaded aboard the ro-ro vessel Ciudad de Cadiz, bound for Kourou, in French Guiana.


One of the ro-ro vessels managed by the Louis Dreyfus Armateurs Group and chartered to the Airbus Group, the Ciudad de Cadiz usually transports aircraft sections and components. In loading a satellite, this vessel is today expanding the range of categories of industrial cargo that it receives on board. This is a major first in more than one sense. On the one hand, this is the first time that an aerospace industry product will have transited the Port of Nantes − Saint Nazaire. On the other hand, the Airbus Group is transporting one of its satellites aboard one of its own vessels for the first time also.

Extremely sensitive, the satellite’s measuring instrument could be damaged in the event of a sudden loss of pressure. That is why Airbus has preferred the maritime solution to transportation by air for this particular Atlantic crossing. A worldwide leader in the aeronautical, space and associated services sector is thereby making use of its maritime logistics organization, which is entrusted to its service provider LD Seaplane, a subsidiary of shipping group Louis Dreyfus Armateurs.

Conveyed from Toulouse, where it had been undergoing a last series of inspections at the InterSpace test centre, the AEOLUS satellite arrived at Nantes − Saint Nazaire Port’s ro-ro terminal at Montoir de Bretagne. Positioned on a trailer, it was then rolled and handled with the greatest of care on board the vessel, along with its component parts, which were packed into 6 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.

The Ciudad de Cadiz arrived in French Guiana on 28th June. AEOLUS will be propelled by the Vega launcher and put into orbit on 21st August.

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