Flight International online news 09:30GMT: Earth observation satellite CryoSat has arrived at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, about 800 km north of Moscow, Russia in preparation for its launch on 8 October 2005.

CryoSat - BIG

Flown from Munch to Talagi Airport, Archangel in Russia and then transported overnight on railcars to Plesetsk, CryoSat was packed in its own nitrogen-pressurized container for the journey.

Accompanied by a host of support equipment, the shipment weighed in at around 60 tonnes and is valued at 80 million euros (US$100 million).

CryoSat is the first in the series of Earth Explorer missions to be launched.

Earth Explorers are small, inexpensive missions designed to provide some fast answers to a specific aspect of the Earth's environment. In this case, CryoSat is to determine rates of change in the thickness of marine and continental ice cover.

The satellite will be launched using a Russian Rockot vehicle, which is a converted SS-19 ballistic missile launcher with an additional Breeze-KM upper stage.

CryoSat will be the first European Space Agency mission launched on Rockot. This will be followed by Earth Explorers GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) in 2006 and SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) in 2007.


Source: Flight International