PR – Following word from Eurockot that launch of the Earth Explorer SMOS
satellite can take place between July and October this year, ESA, CNES
and the prime contractor Thales Alenia Space are now making detailed
preparations for the last crucial steps before ESA’s water mission is
placed in orbit.
The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS)
satellite has been in storage at Thales Alenia Space’s facilities in
Cannes, France since May last year awaiting for a third stage of the
Rockot launcher to be assigned to the mission and a slot given for
launch from the Russian Plesetsk Cosmodrome 800 km north of Moscow. All
being well, SMOS will be the second of ESA’s Earth Explorer missions to
launch after the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation
Explorer (GOCE), which is planned for launch on 16 March 2009.