by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Dec 12, 2011
The BepiColombo Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter Structural Model arrived at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands on 7 November 2011, having been flown from Japan.
In the coming weeks, the four components that make up the Mercury Composite Spacecraft will be prepared for integration into their launch configuration in preparation for an acoustic and mechanical test campaign.
The BepiColombo Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) Structural Model (SM) arrived at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, on 7 November 2011, having travelled by road from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
The spacecraft, which is being developed and built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was flown from their facility at Sagamihara, Japan.
Once the transport container had been cleaned and transferred to the 'XMM' cleanroom in the ESTEC Test Centre, it was left overnight to reach thermal equilibrium with its surroundings.
On 8 November, the transport container was opened and the MMO's internal shock recorders were inspected to ensure that the dynamic environment experienced by the spacecraft during transport had remained within specifications.
An overhead crane and lifting device were used to move the MMO from its transport container base onto its handling trolley, after which it was moved to the 'Rosetta' cleanroom to join the other components of the Mercury Composite Spacecraft (MCS).
In parallel with the unpacking of the MMO, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) was undergoing alignment checks after completion of its thermal balance test and the removal of its thermal blankets.
In the coming weeks, the MMO, the MPO, the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) and the Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshade and Interface Structure (MOSIF) will be prepared for integration to form the MCS, the configuration in which they will be launched and travel to Mercury.
The BepiColombo Mission
The mission comprises two spacecraft: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). During the journey to Mercury, the MMO will be shielded from the Sun by the Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and Interface Structure (MOSIF), which also provides the interface between the MMO and the MPO.
The fourth component of the composite spacecraft stack is the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), whose primary task is to provide solar-electric propulsion for the journey to Mercury.
BepiColombo is a joint mission by ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership. The Prime Contractor for BepiColombo is Astrium GmbH.
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NASA Extends Messenger Mission
Annapolis, MD (SPX) Nov 16, 2011
NASA has announced that it will extend the Messenger mission for an additional year of orbital operations at Mercury beyond the planned end of the primary mission on March 17, 2012. The Messenger probe became the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet on March 18, 2011. "We are still ironing out the funding details, but we are pleased to be able to support the continued exploration ... read more
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