Launch of ESA’s gravity mapping satellite delayed

Launch tower at Plesetsk
16 March 2009

This afternoon, ESA’s Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite was due to be launched by a Russian Rockot vehicle from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia.

However, the launch operations were stopped a few seconds before scheduled liftoff as the doors of the launch service tower did not open. Due to this anomaly, the tower was held in position and did not move back as required for a launch.

The teams in charge of the launch operations are currently investigating the cause of this anomaly and will be able to provide further information later today. At present there is confidence that the launch can take place tomorrow at the same time (15:21 CET).

The GOCE spacecraft is under controlled conditions and will remain safe inside the launcher’s fairing waiting for the next launch opportunity.

For further information:

Franco Bonacina,
ESA Spokesman and Head of Media Relations Office
Communication and Knowledge Department
Tel: + 33 1 5369 7299
Fax: + 33 1 6369 7690
e-mail: Franco.Bonacina@esa.int

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