Press Release

Rosetta’s mating ritual completed

By SpaceRef Editor
November 9, 2001
Filed under , ,

A major landmark was passed this week in the race to prepare the Rosetta
spacecraft for its January 2003 launch from South America. After the
successful mating of the two modules that make up ESA’s comet chaser,
the Rosetta flight model is now ready for transportation to the European
Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. It will
then undergo an exhaustive series of tests before shipment to the launch
site at the end of summer 2002.

The mating, which took place on 2 November, was the final stage in the
lengthy assembly, integration and verification (AIV) campaign at the
Turin plant of Alenia Spazio.

“This is an important step on the long road to launching Rosetta, 14
months from now,” said ESA’s project manager for Rosetta, John Ellwood.
“Our colleagues in Italy have worked extremely hard to make this
possible, and we are very grateful for all of their efforts.”

“We are now looking forward to completing the test programme and sending
the spacecraft on its epic journey to Comet Wirtanen,” he added.

Mating the modules

In recent months, the two sections of the Rosetta orbiter have been
sitting side by side in the giant clean room on the premises of
Alenia Spazio while engineers painstakingly assembled and tested the
spacecraft’s instruments and other hardware.

This separate existence came to an end when the 200 kg Payload Support
Module — the home of Rosetta’s 11 scientific instruments — was
carefully lifted on top of the Bus Support Module, where the main power,
communication and propulsion systems are housed.

Once the sections were bolted together and the hundreds of cables
linking the modules were connected, the main structure of the Rosetta
flight model was visible for the first time.

“For us, this event may be considered to be ‘a point of no return’,”
said Claude Berner, Rosetta’s payload and AIV manager. “The spacecraft
is now in its final configuration for the environmental testing that
will take place at ESTEC in the coming months.”

Once the Alenia and ESA teams have checked that all systems are working
properly after the mating, the flight model will be packed for its long
journey to the Netherlands. During the week of 12 November, Rosetta and
all of its ground support equipment will be transported across Europe
to the state-of-the art test facilities at ESTEC.


* More about Rosetta

* Rosetta’s scientific instruments


[Image 1:]
Mating completed — the two modules of the Rosetta spacecraft are
united. The main structure of the Rosetta flight model, seen here in
the horizontal configuration, is visible for the first time. The two
modules, the Payload Support Module and Bus Support Module, were mated
at the Turin premises of Alenia Spazio on 2 November 2001.

[Image 2:]
The mating of the Rosetta Payload Support Module (top) and Bus Support
Module in progress at Alenia Spazio in Turin, Italy.

[Image 3:]
The proto-flight model (PFM) of Rosetta at the Alenia Spazio premises.

[Image 4:]
The Rosetta proto-flight model (PFM) and, in the background, the
electrical qualification model (EQM) sitting side by side in the giant
clean room on the premises of Alenia Spazio.

SpaceRef staff editor.