ing back, Mr. Muzi considers this target date “rather optimistic.” The project
ended up three and a half years behind schedule, though Mr. Muzi doesn’t
consider that a dramatic delay, given GOCE’s complexity and ambitious scope
and that at least six months of the delay was due to the launcher unavailability.
Moreover, the mission’s final cost of €350 million (US$486 million) stayed
within 12 percent of the initial budget.
In March 2009, the five-meter (16-foot) GOCE successfully launched from
Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a Russian spaceport. In November, after seven months
of commissioning and calibration, Mr. Muzi handed the project reins to Dr.
Floberghagen, who had worked on the project from the start.
“Most people, when their part is done, they look for a new job on a new proj-
ect. I was not interested in a new project,” Dr. Floberghagen says. “I wanted to
see how we could reap the fruits of this investment. Danilo understood that I
was a resource he could make use of during the post-launch phase.”
After working together for nearly nine years, the two men say they found it
easy to transition leadership.
“We had to base our design on a
combination of tests, simulation
and analysis. We built a high-
fidelity end-to-end simulator
to prove that we would achieve
performances overall. That
was a challenge because, at
the end, the satellite was a