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  • Earth Observation Missions to be launched by Rockot

    Paper number



    Mr. Peter Freeborn, Eurockot Launch Services GmbH, Germany


    Mr. York Viertel, Eurockot Launch Services GmbH, Germany



    Eurockot Launch Services GmbH has become an established provider of commercial launch services particularly for organisations operating or planning to operate earth observation satellites in Low Earth Orbits (LEO). As a joint venture company owned by EADS Astrium and Khrunichev Space Center, Eurockot has already performed a number of launches of earth observation missions for Germany, the USA and the Republic of Korea in the recent past and presently has a backlog of future launches for the European Space Agency (ESA) encompassing missions from both the Earth Explorer Core and Opportunity programmes. 
    This abstract gives an insight into these missions and also briefly touches on the capability of the Rockot launch vehicle to perform earth escape mission launches with the use of an additional kick-stage attached to the spacecraft.
    Having successfully launched the Republic of Korea's KOMPSAT-2 earth observation satellite in July 2006, Eurockot will be launching 2 missions for the European Space Agency in 2008: the GOCE Earth Explorer Core and the SMOS Earth Explorer Opportunity missions. 
    GOCE will have a mass of approx. 1200 kg and will be launched into near sun-synchronous, circular low earth orbit of 270 - 300 km altitude from the dedicated Rockot launch facilities at Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia. ESA's GOCE mission - an acronym of Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer - will produce global and regional models of the Earth's gravity field and the reference equipotential surface (Geoid) with unprecedented high spatial resolution and accuracy. These measurements will be used in a wide range of research and application areas such as global ocean circulation, geophysics and unification of height systems. The paper will detail the Launch of GOCE in mid 2008.
    SMOS with a mass of some 700 kg is the first satellite to provide global maps of Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity using the newly developed MIRAS instrument that is capable of observing both variables concurrently. The SMOS satellite will be attached to the Breeze upper stage of Rockot via an adapter system which will host a secondary payload also owned by ESA, the PROBA-2 (Project for On-Board Autonomy) sun observation and space environment technology demonstrator.
    In all three cases, Eurockot provides the mechanical interfaces and separation systems next to the actual launch services. These include the support to the European Space Agency for importing the satellites into Russia, arranging their transport to the Rockot-dedicated payload preparation and integration facilities at Plesetsk Cosmodrome, their fuelling and integration with the Breeze upper stage and the actual launch at launch pad LC 133.
    Details concerning the programmatics and management of the launch campaigns falling into the responsibility of Eurockot Launch Services will be given in the final paper.
    In addition to the launches of GOCE, SMOS and PROBA-2, Eurockot will also launch the SERVIS-2 spacecraft for a Japanese customer in 2009. 
    The European Space Agency is also evaluating Rockot as a back-up for the VEGA launch vehicle for future earth observation missions.
    Next to its particular capability to address LEO missions, the Rockot launch vehicle has also been proposed for earth escape missions featuring the use of a kick-stage attached to the spacecraft to reach deep space. Examples of such configurations will also be given in the final paper.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-08.D2.2.3.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.