It appears all has gone well with the launch of ESA’s GOCE satellite. Following a days delay, the satellite is now in orbit and it appears they have good communications with it.
UPDATE#2 – Looks like they will try again today. Same time, same place, fixed launch pad.
UPDATE – Launch delayed 7 seconds from take-off – more news from ESA soon hopefully.
GOCE, the first of three ESA Earth Explorer missions in 2009, launches today. ESA have gone multimedia crazy and you can follow progress on the website here, on twitter here, on flickr here and on YouTube here. Let’s hope they put as much effort into checking the rocket.
Fingers crossed for a sucessful launch. L-3 is at 15:18 CET (14:18 GMT).
Some background info below (once you get past the excessive footage of Italians enjoying the sunshine, the second half is actually useful).
ESA have recently passed the next stage in selecting the next in the line of Earth Explorer missions. This process will choose the next satellite to continue the series which so far includes CryoSat-2, SMOS, GOCE, Swarm, ADM-Aeolus & EarthCARE.
The shortlist has now been reduced from six to three. The candidate missions are briefly outlined below. Follow the links for more information.
BIOMASS – aims to measure the distribution and temporal changes of forest biomass at a global scale. Note a secondary objective of this mission is measurement of ice thickness.
CoReH2O – aims to measure fresh water stored in snow on land surfaces and in snow accumulation on glaciers and ice sheets.
PREMIER – aims to quantify processes controlling global atmospheric composition in the mid- to upper-troposphere and lower stratosphere.
To give you some idea of the timescales involved in planning satellite missions, whichever mission is finally selected the launch is anticipated in 2016.