During the last 12 months the satellite has been undergoing stringent mechanical and environmental tests at the Space Test Centre at IABG (Industrieanlagen-Betriebsgesellschaft mbH) in Ottobrunn, Germany. Unfortunately, some concerns were raised about how a few of the components were functioning and consequently, repair and replacement activities hampered the testing programme and slightly delayed the launch date. Now, however, there just remains the final software checks before the satellite and its support equipment are packaged for the long voyage to Russia for launch at the end of September. The last phase of the testing programme focused on rigorous acoustic tests, which subjected the satellite to the same levels of noise that it will be exposed to during launch. CryoSat will be launched on a Rockot launch vehicle from the remote Plesetsk Cosmodrome about 800 km north of Moscow in Russia. Rockot is one of the modified Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) SS-19 launchers, which were decommissioned as a result of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991. The adaptation of the SS-19 uses the original two lower liquid propellant stages of the ICBM in conjunction with a new 'Breeze-KM' third stage for commercial payloads.
A few weeks before the acoustic tests were carried out CryoSat underwent thermal balance and vacuum testing. This part of the programme ensured that the satellite will function properly in the harsh environment that space presents. The spacecraft was oriented in various positions in the 'Sun chamber' to simulate, as accurately as possible, the various degrees of heat that the spacecraft will encounter during its unusual polar-orbiting lifetime.