Entry 21: On the launch pad

Transfer of GOCE to launch tower

11 March 2009 – With five days to go before launch (L-5) and in cold snowy conditions, the GOCE Upper Composite has been successfully transferred by rail to the launch pad and lifted into the service tower.

The Upper Composite – which comprises the GOCE satellite and Upper Stage of the launcher encapsulated in the protective fairing was initially installed in the service tower and then hoisted to the seventh floor. After some preparatory work had been completed, the Upper Composite was lowered onto the launch vehicle already erected.

Fabio Panin and Stefano Capitanio
Fabio Panin and Stefano Capitanio

The operation was witnessed by the members of the GOCE Launch Campaign team. Having a little fun now they see their beloved spacecraft safely installed in the tower, the team took advantage of the wintery conditions to hold a funny hat contest – which was won by Fabio Panin (who has been providing regular updates for this diary) and Launch Campaign Manager Stefano Capitanio!

Launch campaign team in snow
Launch campaign team at the launch pad

The next step in the campaign will be to carry out some more testing and fuelling prior to launch next Monday at 15:21 CET (14:21 GMT, 17:21 local time).

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