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Launch of European satellites from Plesetsk postponed

October 31, 2013, 1:05 UTC+3
A part in the Briz-KM upper stage must be replaced, the source said
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Photo ITAR-TASS / Alexander Babenko

Photo ITAR-TASS / Alexander Babenko

PARIS, October 30 (Itar-Tass) - The launch of European research satellites of the Swarm system planned for November 14 is postponed at least for a week, a source at the European Space Agency, that has ordered the launch, told Itar-Tass on Wednesday. The satellites will be carried by a Russian launch vehicle Rokot to orbit.

The launch is postponed for about a week, as a part in the Briz-KM upper stage must be replaced, the source said. An exact date cannot be set yet. Additional details will be given as soon as it becomes clear, the source added.

The Rokot and the Briz-KM are designed and made by the Khrunichev state space scientific and production centre. The rocket is a modernized two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile RS-18. It is designed to carry space vehicles weighing up to two tonnes to low orbits. The launch weight of the rocket is 107 tonnes.

Earlier, defects in control equipment of the upper stage already caused launch postponements.

The aim of the Swarm research mission is to study Earth's magnetic field. The three orbital satellites will analyze various data to give new information to scientists about planetary geomagnetic processes. It is the fourth mission of the European Space Agency’s Earth Explorer project. Under the programme, satellites GOCE (gravity and oceanic currents study), SMOS (soil moisture and ocean salt) and CryoSat (to study ice cover of polar areas) have been put into orbit.

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