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Ariane 5 October 17, 2018

Ariane 5 has the “green light” for Arianespace’s launch with the BepiColombo space probe to explore Mercury

This week’s Ariane 5 flight that will send BepiColombo on its way to the planet Mercury has been approved for liftoff on October 19, following the launch readiness review held today at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Performed prior to each Arianespace flight, the launch readiness review validated the “go” status of the Ariane 5 ECA launcher version, the multi-segment BepiColombo spacecraft, as well as the Spaceport’s launch site infrastructure and the network of tracking stations.

With approval granted, Ariane 5 is cleared for rollout tomorrow from the Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch zone. Designated Flight VA245 in Arianespace’s numbering system, the launch will deploy its BepiColombo passenger during a 26-minute sequence – with liftoff set for a precise moment on October 19: 10:45:28, local time in French Guiana.

Mission to Mercury

BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Its Mercury Composite Spacecraft (MCS) consists of two orbiters: the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO); as well as two additional elements: the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), and the Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF). BepiColombo was built under the industrial leadership of Airbus, which heads a consortium of 83 companies from 16 countries.

After launch by Ariane 5, BepiColombo will arrive at Mercury in late 2025. During its one-year nominal mission (with a possible 1-year extension), the MPO and MMO will examine the peculiarities of Mercury’s internal structure and magnetic field generation, as well as how the planet interacts with the sun and solar wind. Goals of the mission also include investigating Mercury’s surface features and chemistry.


Liftoff time for Flight VA245:

French Guiana UTC Washington, D.C. Tokyo Paris
10:45:28 p.m.
on Oct. 19
on Oct. 20
09:45:28 p.m.
on Oct. 19
10:45:28 a.m.
on Oct. 20
03:45:28 a.m.
on Oct. 20


More details are available in the VA245 launch kit:

Ariane Flight VA245
PDF / 2 MB

The European Space Agency website - BepiColombo:

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) website:

Institute of Space and Astronautical Science website:

Airbus website – Space:

Ariane 5 October 12, 2018

Supporting science: BepiColombo is integrated atop the Ariane 5 launcher for its mission to Mercury

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