Status Report

Mars Express at the Baikonur cosmodrome preparing for June launch

By SpaceRef Editor
May 1, 2003
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Mars Express at the Baikonur cosmodrome preparing for June launch
Mars Express

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express interplanetary probe, built with
the contribution of Alenia Spazio, left Toulouse, where it underwent
extensive environmental, thermal, mechanical and electrical testing, under
the co-ordination of the Alenia Spazio team, in March and is now undergoing
checks and tests in at the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan.

Scheduled for an early June launch on a Soyuz-Fregat rocket, and in a fixed
launch window occurring only once every 17 years, Mars Express will make a
400 million kilometre, six-month journey to reach the Red Planet in December

Once inserted into an elliptical, quasi-polar orbit around Mars, the
spacecraft – the first European mission to a planet – will begin the orbital
and in situ study of its interior, surface and atmosphere using seven
scientific instruments on the orbiter and the Beagle 2 lander that will be
placed on the surface.

Alenia Spazio has played an important role in the Mars Express mission with
overall responsibility for the assembly, integration and testing of the
satellite, development of the dual S/X band transponder, the Sub-surface
Sounding Radar Altimeter, and a pair of communication systems for the
Orbiter/Lander link.

Another major Italian contribution is the radar for the MARSIS (Mars
Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding) experiment that will
be used to detect the presence of water-bearing strata up to a depth of 2-5
km beneath the Martian surface.

SpaceRef staff editor.