Press Release

Arianespace to boost Rosetta on interplanetary mission

By SpaceRef Editor
June 19, 2001
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Arianespace will launch the Rosetta spacecraft on its 8-year journey to
rendezvous with the comet 46P/Wirtanen. Rosetta is one of the European Space
Agency’s Planetary Cornerstone missions.

Le Bourget, June 19, 2001 – Jean-Marie Luton, Chairman and CEO of
Arianespace and Antonio Rodotý, Director General of the European Space
Agency, signed a contract today for the launch of the Rosetta scientific
spacecraft. The signing took place in the presence of David Southwood, ESA’s
Director of Science.

Rosetta will be launched by a dedicated Ariane 5 in mid-January 2003 from
the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, into a
liberation point orbit. This mission will benefit from the extended coast
phase provided by the Ariane 5 EPS upper stage.

This contract reflects the unmatched versatility of the Ariane 5 heavy
launcher, and Arianespace’s ability to carry out a wide spectrum of
missions, from commercial launches into geostationary orbit, to scientific
missions demanding very special orbits.

The Rosetta spacecraft

The Rosetta spacecraft will be built under the industrial responsibility of
ASTRIUM GmbH. A box type structure measuring 2.8 x 2.1 x 2.0 meters, it will
weigh approximately 3,000 kg. at launch. The upper part of the spacecraft
will be equipped with the payload instruments, while subsystems will be
installed in the base. Two solar panels, each covering 32 m*, will give this
interplanetary craft a total “wingspan” of more than 32 meters.

Rosetta will swing by the Earth twice, and Mars once, using their gravity to
provide the energy needed for its long voyage and send it on the right path.
During its eight year voyage, Rosetta will perform flybys of two asteroids,
Otawara and Siwa. The duration of the mission will require the onboard
instruments to be placed into hibernation for long periods.

Rendezvous maneuvers with the comet 46P/Wirtanen are planned for November
2011. Rosetta’s primary mission is to study the comet’s nucleus and
environment. In 2012, a lander carried by the spacecraft will actually land
on the surface of the comet.

SpaceRef staff editor.