GOCE launch: animated sequence
An excellent sequence of animations showing liftoff, booster separations, fairing jettison and final spacecraft separation during GOCE launch, scheduled for 15:21 CET today.
GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) is launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia by a modified Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) SS-19 launcher called Rockot. The launch vehicle comprises the original two lower liquid propellant stages in conjunction with a dedicated third-stage called Breeze.
Just over two minutes after launch the first-stage of the Rockot launcher separates and falls away while the second-stage ignites.
Almost five and a half minutes after launch and now over the Arctic region, the second-stage of the launcher separates leaving the Breeze third-stage and the GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite – the so-called 'upper-composite' – on its ascent trajectory to the injection altitude of around 295 km. This phase takes almost an hour and a half.
Around three minutes after launch the two half shells of the fairing, which encapsulate the GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) satellite, are opened and released.
ESA's gravity mission GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) is dedicated to measuring the Earth's gravity field and modelling the geoid with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution. Because the gravitational signal is stronger closer to the Earth, GOCE has been designed to fly in a particularly low orbit - at an altitude of just 250 km.