Solar Orbiter is ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) first medium class mission with strong partnership from NASA. Part of the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme, the science platform has now completed all its European-based construction and integration tests and is ready to be shipped to its launch site at the end of October.
Launch of Solar Orbiter is scheduled for 5 February 2020 at 23:15 EST (04:15 UTC on 6 February) via a NASA Launch Services program procured Atlas V 411 rocket from United Launch Alliance (ULA).
Solar Orbiter – 10 years in the making:
The Solar Orbiter project started almost 10 years ago. After nearly three years of proposals and mission reviews, the satellite’s contract for construction was signed in April 2012.
Airbus Defense and Space in Stevenage, United Kingdom, built the spacecraft after an investment of nearly €300 million ($334 million USD) from the British government in the €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion USD) project.
“Solar Orbiter has been one of the most challenging and exciting missions we have ever designed and built here at Stevenage,” said Eckard Settelmeyer, Airbus’ Head of Science Institutional Satellite Projects.
In September 2018 Solar Orbiter’s final assembly was complete and the spacecraft was shipped ...