BepiColombo is readied for its October 19 Ariane 5 flight on a mission to Mercury
Preparations are moving ahead for Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 launch, which will send the BepiColombo spacecraft on its way to the solar system’s smallest and least-explored terrestrial planet: Mercury.
Scheduled for an October 19 liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana, this upcoming flight will continue Arianespace’s launch services for missions that help unlock mysteries of deep space.
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.
Designated Flight VA245 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, the BepiColombo mission will be the company’s seventh in 2018, following heavy-lift Ariane 5 flights in September, July, April and January; as well as a light-lift Vega launch in August and a medium-lift Soyuz mission in March.
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