Arianespace and ESA announce the JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) launch contract
Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) today announced the signature of a launch services contract with an Ariane launch vehicle for JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer).
JUICE the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer – is the first large-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. Its mission is devoted to complete a unique tour of the Jupiter system.
JUICE will spend at least three years making detailed observations of the giant gaseous planet Jupiter and in-depth studies of three of its largest moons as well as the potentially ocean-bearing satellites, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.
The JUICE mission will utilize an Ariane 5 or an Ariane 64 launch vehicle, with the launch period starting in mid-2022 – depending of the final launch slot from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America). With the currently-nominal launch window in May 2022 the mission would end in June 2033.
The satellite will have a mass at liftoff of approximately six tons and will be placed in an Earth escape orbit toward Jupiter initiating a journey of 600 million kilometers.
After a 7.5-year cruise toward Jupiter – which includes gravitational assists from Earth, Venus and Mars – the spacecraft will enter orbit around the giant planet in October 2029.
The Jupiter tour includes several flybys of each planet-sized world, and it ends with orbit insertion around Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System.
JUICE will carry the most powerful scientific payload ever flown to the outer Solar System. It consists of 10 state-of-the-art instruments plus one science experiment that uses the spacecraft telecommunication system with ground-based radio telescopes.
JUICE’s instruments will enable scientists to compare each of these icy satellites and to investigate the potential for such bodies to harbor habitable environments such as subsurface oceans. They will also carry out observations of Jupiter, its atmosphere, magnetosphere, satellites and rings.
Airbus Defence and Space is developing and building the JUICE spacecraft. As prime contractor, for design, development, production, and testing of the satellite, Airbus will lead a consortium of more than 80 companies covering more than 110 contracts.
Following the contract signature, Günther Hasinger, Director of Science Programs at ESA, said: “JUICE is the first ‘large-class’ mission in our Cosmic Vision program and of prime importance for investigating the habitability potential of ocean-worlds beyond our own. We’re delighted to confirm it will have a flying start with an Ariane launch vehicle, setting it on course to fulfil its scientific goals in the Jupiter system.”
Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, added: “Arianespace is honored to be awarded this new scientific mission from ESA, which will advance our understanding of the Universe. Less than a year after the launch of BepiColombo to Mercury, we have won the launch contract for the JUICE mission to Jupiter’s moons, further confirmation of Arianespace’s ability to ensure Europe’s independent access to space for all types of missions. We are once again marshaling all of our strengths and capabilities to support Europe’s spaceborne ventures, with a launch services offering based on Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 so we can deliver the availability and flexibility needed by ESA for its latest emblematic mission.”
Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services and solutions for all types of satellites (institutional and commercial) into all orbits. It has orbited more than 600 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur (Central Asia). Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility in Kourou at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.