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GOCE satellite launch delayed due to technical snag

MOSCOW (BNS): Due to some technical difficulties identified in one of the units of the guidance and navigation subsystem of the European Space Agency GOCE satellite launcher's upper stage (Breeze KM), preparatory activities have been called off. The GOCE is now scheduled for lift off at 16:21 CEST on October 5. The launch delay, however, will not affect the satellite and its mission, ESA said.

The anomalies were noticed on Sunday, September 7, when preparatory activities for the launch of ESA's GOCE satellite by Eurockot from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia were underway.

Engineers attending to the problem said that the unit had to be replaced. They said that in order to perform this operation, it would be necessary to de-mate the Launcher's upper composite and transport it from the launch pad back to the integration room. “Once in the clean room, the protective fairing that shelters the satellite will be opened and the spacecraft and its adaptor system will be dismounted in order to allow access to the Breeze KM equipment to be replaced,” they said.

The launch will be the most sophisticated mission ever to investigate the Earth’s gravitational field and to map the reference shape of our planet – the geoid - with unprecedented resolution and accuracy.

Eurockot Launch Services GmbH is the joint venture of EADS Astrium (51%) & Khrunichev Space Centre (49%) and performs launch services for operators of Low Earth Orbit satellites using the Rockot launch vehicle.

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