Russian Rocket to Deliver U.S.-German Satellites From Plesetsk to Orbit

The pre-launch preparation of two GRASE spacecraft designed by American NASA and the German DLR centre of aviation and space is underway at the Russian Plesetsk launching ground. Unexpectedly yet recognisably, the designers named them after Walt Disney's characters, Tom and Jerry. The names were written on special tags affixed to the spacecraft the day before. The two satellites will be launched in mid-March and delivered to their common quasi-polar orbit by a Rokot light-class conversion rocket. Tonight, the assembly of the fore-section of the rocket is supposed to be completed, both satellites sitting on the platform to be connected with the acceleration module of the Briz/KM class. This completed, the streamlining cover will be assembled. The Tom and Jerry scientific satellites, officially designated as GRASE will be used to study the gravitation field of the Earth. Both spacecraft were assembled by the German Astrium company. A total of four launches from Plesetsk of the Rokot rocket carrying Russian and foreign-made satellites is planned for the year 2002.

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