This afternoon, after yesterday’s delay, expectations were high at Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia, waiting to see if GOCE would finally make it.
As I couldn’t, personally, follow the launch, I came running on the first opportunity to check how things went and to post the more recent news, but looks like someone did the homework for me…looking at the recent comments there was one from Mark Drinkwater, GOCE Mission Scientist:
I can happily report that the GOCE satellite was successfully launched from Plesetsk today and has been placed into the correct orbit by its Rockot launcher! At my time of writing, we have had contact with the satellite on two successive revolutions at the Kiruna and Svalbard ground stations, and now the launch teams take a well-deserved break. ESOC in Darmstadt is now controlling the satellite and will continue with the Early Operations Phase to establish the health of the satellite now we are safely “on orbit”.
We are all elated that Europe has successfully opened a new Chapter in Earth Observation. The launch of GOCE is the first in a series of six Earth Explorer missions. Over the course of the next 9 months, we plan to launch the SMOS mission (in July), and then CryoSat-2 towards the end of the year. A busy year for ESA indeed, but a key marker for Europe in terms of consolidating its global position at the forefront of Earth Observation.
Congratulations to ESA and the GOCE team in particular, now it is time to set the focus on the hard work ahead!
And Mark, many thanks for the time to keep us updated, that was really appreciated!
For more information read ESA’s press release.