Rockot Lift off Preparations Continue at Plesetsk

At Plesetsk Cosmodrome, preparations are under way for the upcoming launch of a Russia-made Rockot launch vehicle with the GOCE earth observation satellite for European Space Agency. The launch is currently targeted for March 16.

The GOCE launch campaign is being conducted by a combined team of ESA and Thales Alenia Space of Italy (the satellite prime contractor), the Russian Space Forces, Khrunichev Space Center (the Rockot maker) and Eurockot Launch Services ( the launch services provider, a joint venture of EADS Astrium and Khrunichev Space Center).

Within the first two weeks of this month the Russian personnel and an advanced Eurockot/ESA/Thales Alenia Space launch team was busy with making the Rockot integration and payload processing facility (MIK) ready for the scheduled pre-launch activities.

According to ESA, the whole ESA/Thales Alenia Space team is expected to arrive at Plesetsk today, and the next day after arrival operations will start inside MIK with the ‘awakening’ of the GOCE satellite which has been in storage at the launch site since last October. In addition, the premises hosting the satellite transport container and the support equipment have been kept sealed and monitored via a remote system of webcams and temperature/pressure sensors.

In parallel, at MIK in the main processing hall, the final series of tests on Rockot launcher’s Breeze-KM Upper Stage are being carried out by the Khrunichev specialists.

The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) is the first Earth Explorer Core mission to be developed as part of ESA’s Living Planet Programme. Earth Explorer missions form the science and research element of the Living Planet Programme and focus on the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and the Earth’s interior, and the impact that human activity is having on natural Earth processes.

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