Entry 10: GOCE on the launch pad
5 September 2008 – With lift-off less than a week away, the campaign to launch ESA's gravity satellite is rapidly moving ahead. The Rockot launch vehicle carrying GOCE has already been erected on the launch pad.
On 3 September the Upper Composite, which includes the Breeze-KM Upper Stage and GOCE satellite encased in the fairing, was covered with thermal blankets and transferred to the launch pad by rail. There the Upper Composite was lifted into the service tower at the launch pad to join the rest of the launch vehicle.
Yesterday the rocket underwent some electrical testing and today a dress-rehearsal of the countdown procedure is being carried out. This rehearsal is vital to check that the timing is right for launch on 10 September and to confirm that all lines of communication are operational.
The few remaining activities include the last electrical tests on Saturday and on Monday the Booster Unit will be fuelled. On Tuesday, the Russian State Commission will give the green light for the launch.
GOCE will be launched on a modified Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) SS-19 launcher. The adaptation of the SS-19, called 'Rockot' uses the original two lower liquid propellant stages of the ICBM in conjunction with the Breeze Upper Stage.