The launch of ESA’s GOCE satellite (the ‘sexy’ spacecraft) will be delayed. During launch preparations yesterday (Sunday, Sept. 7) a problem was discovered with a guidance and navigation subsystems on the launch vehicle’s upper stage. To fix the problem, guidance and navigation unit will have to be replace. The upper stage, which includes the GOCE satellite, will have to be de-mated from the rest of the Breeze KM rocket and brought in from the launch site to be repaired. The launch, which will take place at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia, is now scheduled for October 5 at 16:21 CEST.
The satellite and upper stage will be brought to an integration room. Once in the clean room, the protective fairing that shelters the satellite will be opened and the spacecraft and its adaptor system will be dismounted in order to allow access to the Breeze KM equipment to be replaced.
GOCE, which stands for Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer will investigate and map Earth’s gravitational field. ESA officials say the satellite and its mission will not be affected by this launch delay.