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    Russian launch of European GOCE satellite delayed

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    Monday's launch of a Russian 'Rockot' carrier rocket carrying Europe's first GOCE satellite has been postponed for at least one day, an official from the European Space Agency said, without giving a reason for the postponement.

    MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - Monday's launch of a Russian 'Rockot' carrier rocket carrying Europe's first GOCE satellite has been postponed for at least one day, an official from the European Space Agency said, without giving a reason for the postponement.

    The launch was to be carried out by Russia's Space Forces from the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia at 5.21 p.m. Moscow time (14.21 GMT).

    Lt.-Col. Alexei Zolotukhin, a spokesman for the Russian Space Forces, said the launch has been postponed due to a technical problem, and will be conducted on Tuesday at the same time.

    The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite was designed to 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 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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