As part of Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme ESA and Eurockot signed a contract for the launch of Sentinel-2A and Sentinel-3A on two separate Rockot launch vehicles flying from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia in 2013.

ESA had previously signed a contract with Arianespace to launch two Sentinel satellites on two Vega launches in December and it had been expected that Sentinel-2A would have flown on a Vega launch vehicle.  However, delays to that programme necessitated the change to Rockot.  Eurockot is based in Bremen, Germany and is a joint venture between Astrium and Khrunichev Space Centre. The company provides low-orbit launches using the Rockot launch vehicle for observation and communication satellites from its dedicated facilities in northern Russia.