Entry 24: Going home

Cleanroom used for storage

19 March 2009 – Yesterday, members of the management team and VIPs left the launch site to return home with some members of the launch campaign team following on this afternoon. The first part of the journey entails taking an 18-hour train journey overnight from Plesetsk to Moscow and then finally a flight home.

The remainder of the team will stay on at the launch site to pack up the thousands of items that make up the ground support equipment. Some team members will leave early next week and the others a few days later. The last to depart - including Launch Campaign Manager Stefano Capitanio - will follow the shipment of containers home via Arkhangelsk (Archangel), back-tracking on the route taken in July last year. The cargo will then be split into two; the most valuable items will be transported by air and the rest by ship.

By the end of next week the cargo travelling by air will arrive at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands – signifying the end of the launch campaign for GOCE. The mission operations team in ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany is now in control of GOCE as it orbits the Earth.

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