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    Russian carrier rocket to orbit European satellite March 16

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    The launch of a Russian Rockot carrier rocket with Europe's first GOCE satellite on board has been scheduled for March 16, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center said on Thursday.

    MOSCOW, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - The launch of a Russian Rockot carrier rocket with Europe's first GOCE satellite on board has been scheduled for March 16, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center said on Thursday.

    The launch will be carried out by Russia's Space Forces from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia.

    The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite will measure the Earth's gravitational field.

    The Rockot launch vehicle is a modified version of the Russian RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) intercontinental ballistic missile. It uses the two original lower stages of the ICBM in conjunction with a Breeze-KM upper-stage for commercial payloads.

    GOCE, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), is the first European satellite designed to provide unique models of the Earth's gravity field on a global scale and with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution.

    The contract to launch GOCE was concluded between the ESA and Eurockot Launch Services GmbH, a joint venture of the Khrunichev center (49%) and EADS Astrium (51%).

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