The European Space Agency (ESA) water mission is poised for launch between July and October, the agency reported.
Following word from Eurockot that launch of the Earth Explorer SMOS satellite can take place then, 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 facilities in Cannes, France, since May last year awaiting a third stage of the Rockot launcher to be assigned to the mission, and a slot for launch from the Russian Plesetsk Cosmodrome 800 km north of Moscow.
Without glitches, SMOS will be the second ESA Earth Explorer mission to launch after the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE), which is planned for launch March 16.
Following news from Eurockot Launch Services that launch will be this summer, a team of SMOS managers and engineers from ESA, CNES and Thales Alenia Space has just returned from Moscow after meeting with their Russian counterparts to discuss aspects of the launch.