Arianespace is ready to conduct the opening part of the BepiColombo mission with the launch of the spacecraft on a flight to study Mercury. The launch will be conducted by an Ariane 5 that is set to liftoff at 01:45 UTC on Saturday from the European Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.
BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. It was named in honor of Italian mathematician and engineer Giuseppe “Bepi” Colombo.
The mission has been delayed by about five years, although that is not uncommon for major flagship missions.
At one point it was set to launch within weeks of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) – also on an Ariane 5 – before that mission also suffered numerous delays.
BepiColombo consists of two orbiters: Japan’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), both of which will be carried together by the Mercury Transport Module (MTM).
All the elements during integration – via Jacques van Oene of Spacepatches.nl provided to NSF
While MPO will go into an approximately 400 x 1500 km mapping orbit around Mercury, MMO will enter a highly elliptical orbit to study the planet’s enigmatically ...