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The launch of a Russian Rockot carrier rocket bearing Europe's first
The launch of a Russian Rockot carrier rocket bearing Europe's first GOCE satellite has been scheduled for September 10, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center said on Wednesday.

The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite will measure the Earth's gravitational field.

The Rockot launch vehicle is a modified version of the Russian RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile. It uses the two original lower stages of the ICBM in conjunction with a Breeze-KM upper-stage for commercial payloads.

The launch will be carried out by Russia's Space Forces from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia and will put the GOCE satellite into a low earth orbit (LEO) of 270-300 km (170-186 miles).

GOCE, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), is the first European satellite designed to provide unique models of the Earth's gravity field on a global scale and with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution.

The satellite, along with a host of support equipment, was delivered to the Plesetsk center from Amsterdam on Tuesday for pre-launch check, the Khrunichev center said.

The spacecraft will be mounted onto its Rockot launch vehicle 13 days prior to launch.

The contract to launch GOCE was concluded between the ESA and Eurockot Launch Services GmbH, a joint venture of the Khrunichev center (49%) and EADS Astrium (51%).

A total of seven launches of Rockot carrier vehicles have been made since 2000 under the Eurockot program, with 16 satellites owned by leading space agencies and organizations from the United States, Europe and Asia put into orbit.


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