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MOSCOW, November 6 (Itar-Tass) - The launch of European research satellites of the Swarm system by Russia’s Rokot carrier rocket from the Plesetsk spaceport will be carried out on November 22, a source in the rocket and space industry told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
“The rocket launch was postponed at the initiative of the foreign customer,” he specified.
The source stressed that neither the Rokot rocket nor the Briz-KM upper stage were the reasons for the launch delay, and the Russian rocket had been ready for the launch on November 14, but the satellite manufacturer requested to postpone the blastoff.”
Meanwhile, the European Space Agency (ESA) said that the launch, originally scheduled for 14 November, is expected to be delayed by about one week, following a decision to replace a unit in the Briz upper stage of the Rokot launcher.
The Rokot carrier rocket and Briz-M upper stage were designed and manufactured by the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Centre. The carrier rocket was created on the base of the decommissioned RF-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles. It can launch payloads up to 2 tonnes into low-earth orbits. Its lift-off mass is 107 tonnes.
The Swarm mission of the ESA aims to study the Earth’s magnetic field. The Swarm constellation consists of three satellites to be placed in three different polar orbits, two flying side by side at an altitude of 450 km and a third at an altitude of 530 km. Their high-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength, direction and variations of the Earth's magnetic field, complemented by precise navigation, accelerometer and electric field measurements, will provide data essential for modelling the geomagnetic field and its interaction with other physical aspects of the Earth system. The results will offer a unique view of the inside of the Earth from space, enabling the composition and processes of the interior to be studied in detail and increase our knowledge of atmospheric processes and ocean circulation patterns that affect climate and weather.
It is already the forth mission of the ESA Earth Explorer project. The previous satellites that had been placed in orbit within the programme are GOCE (studying of Earth gravity and global ocean currents), SMOS (soil moisture and ocean salinity) and CryoSat (study the Earth’s polar ice caps).