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Timeline of radar altimetry missions

This schematics shows the timeline of modern radar altimeters from the nineties to the next decade, including expected or announced mission extensions beyond the nominal satellite lifespan. Past missions are in red. Satellites in operations are in orange. Future missions and unconfirmed mission extensions are in yellow. This plot is periodically updated based on the latest announcements from the respective Programs and Agencies. Specific requests for updates and changes can be sent to the AVISO user desk (

If you use this figure, please cite: "Aviso+ (2022). Timeline of modern radar altimetry missions. version YYYY/MM"

List of versions:

March 2024 update: TimelineAltimetry_v202403.png

  • Copernicus LTS 2024/02: Sentinel-3C to be launched in 2024Q4 (fallback in 2026, if needed for Sentinel-1C)
  • Copernicus LTS 2024/02: Sentinel-3D to be launched end of 2028, nominal ops until 2036Q1, extended phase up to 2038Q3
  • Copernicus LTS 2024/02: Sentinel-6A nominal ops until mid-2026, extended phase up to end 2028
  • Copernicus LTS 2024/02: Sentinel-6B to be launched in 2025 Q4, nominal ops until 2031 Q1, extended phase up to 2033 Q3
  • Copernicus LTS 2024/02: Sentinel-6C to be launch in 2030 Q4, nominal ops until 2036 Q1, extended phase up to 2038 Q3
  • Copernicus LTS 2024/02: CRISTAL A extended to end 2038
  • Copernicus LTS 2024/02: CRISTAL B extended to end 2039
  • Extended phase switched to orange colour for all missions in operations (S3A, S3B, HY2C, SWOT)
  • Confirmed missions now in plain line (S3D, S6C, CRISTAL A&B)

August 2023 update : TimelineAltimetry_v202308.png

  • Timeline extended to 2040: the figure now spans over 50 years!
  • Timeline now reflecting the latest iteration of the Copernicus “Long Term Scenario”
  • Updated extended mission dates for : SARAL, HY2B, S3, S6
  • Updated launch date for: S3C, S3D, S6B, S6C, S3-NG unit A
  • New missions: HY-2E and 2F, CRISTAL unit A & B, S3 NG unit B, S6-NG unit A

January 2023 update : TimelineAltimetry_v202301.png

  • SWOT : color code changed (from yellow or ‘to be launched’ to orange or ‘in operations’)

September 2022 update : TimelineAltimetry_v202209.png

  • SWOT launch moved to early December 2022
  • S3C launch moved to October 2024
  • S6B launch moved to late November 2025

March 2022 update : TimelineAltimetry_v202203.png

  • S3C launch moved to end of 2023
  • S6B launch moved to June 2026
  • SWOT launch moved to November 2022
  • SARAL extension added (2 years)
  • Added illustration of HY2C/D

October 2021 update : TimelineAltimetry_v202110.png

  • First online version
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