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    Russia set to orbit European GOCE satellite

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    Russia will launch on Monday a Rockot carrier rocket bearing Europe's first GOCE satellite, an official from the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

    MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will launch on Monday a Rockot carrier rocket bearing Europe's first GOCE satellite, an official from the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

    The launch will be carried out by Russia's Space Forces from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia at 16.00 Moscow time (13.00 GMT).

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

    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 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.

    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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