Venus within ESA probe reach

Artist's view of Venus Express main engine firing in space
31 March 2006

PR 12-2006. After its five-month, 400-million-kilometre journey inside our Solar System following its lift-off on 9 November 2005, ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft will finally arrive on 11 April at its destination: planet Venus.

Venus Express mission controllers at the ESA Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, are making intensive preparations for orbit insertion.

This comprises a series of telecommands, engine burns and manoeuvres designed to slow the spacecraft down from a velocity of 29000 km per hour relative to Venus, just before the first burn, to an entry velocity some 15% slower, allowing the spacecraft to be captured into orbit around the planet.

The spacecraft will have to ignite its main engine for 50 minutes in order to achieve deceleration and place itself into a highly elliptical orbit around the planet. Most of its 570 kg of onboard propellant will be used for this manoeuvre. The spacecraft’s solar arrays will be positioned so as to reduce the possibility of excessive mechanical load during engine ignition.

Over the subsequent days, a series of additional burns will be done to lower the orbit apocentre and to control the pericentre. The aim is to end up in a 24-hour orbit around Venus early in May.

The Venus Orbit Injection operations can be followed live at ESA establishments, with ESOC acting as focal point of interest (see attached programme). In all establishments, ESA specialists will be on hand for interviews.

ESA TV will cover this event live from ESOC in Darmstadt. The live transmission will be carried free-to-air. For broadcasters, complete details of the various satellite feeds are listed at http://television.esa.int.

The event will be covered on the web at venus.esa.int. The website will feature regular updates, including video coverage of the press conference and podcast from the control room at ESA’s Space Operations Centre.

Media representatives wishing to follow the event at one of the ESA establishments listed below are requested to fill in the attached registration form and fax it back to the place of their choice.

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Division
Tel : +33(0)1.53.69.7155
Fax: +33(0)1.53.69.7690

Venus Express Orbit Insertion – Tuesday 11 April 2006 ESA/ESOC, Robert Bosch Strasse, 5 – Darmstadt (Germany)

PROGRAMME

07:30 Doors open
08:45 Start of local event, welcome addresses
09:10 ESA TV live from Mission Control Room (MCR) starts
09:17 Engine burn sequence starts
09:45 Occultation of spacecraft by Venus starts
09:55 Occultation ends
10:07 Main engine burn ends
10:20 Address by Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General, and other officials

Break and buffet
Interview opportunities
11:30-12:15 Press Conference
Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General, ESA
Prof. David Southwood, Director of Science, ESA
Gaele Winters, Director of Operations and Infrastructure, ESA
Manfred Warhaut, Flight Operations Director, ESA
Håkan Svedhem, Venus Express Project Scientist, ESA
Don McCoy, Venus Express Project Manager, ESA
13:15 End of event at ESOC

Venus Express Orbit Insertion – ESA/ESOC Darmstadt – 11 April 2006

First name: ______________ Surname: ___________________Media:  _______________________________________________Address: ______________________________________________Tel:  _______________________________ Fax: ________________________________Mobile : ____________________________ E-mail: _____________________________

I will be attending the Venus Express Orbit Insertion event at the following site:

( ) Germany
Location: ESA/ESOC
Address: Robert Bosch Strasse 5, Darmstadt, Germany
Opening hours: 07:30 – 13:00
Contact: Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin,
Tel: +49.6151.902.696 – Fax: +49.6151.902.961

( ) France
Location: ESA HQ
Address: 8/10, rue Mario Nikis – Paris 15, France
Opening hours: 08:00 – 13:00
Contact: Anne-Marie Remondin,
Tel: +33(0)1.53.69.7155 – fax: +33(0)1.53.69.7690
( ) The Netherlands
Location: Newton Room, ESA/ESTEC
Address: Keplerlaan 1, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
Opening hours: 08:30 – 12:30
Contact: Michel van Baal, tel. + 31 71 565 3006, fax + 31 71
565 5728
( ) Italy
Location: ESA/ESRIN
Address: Via Galileo Galilei, Frascati (Rome), Italy
Opening hours: 07:00 – 14:00
Contact: Franca Morgia,
Tel: +39.06.9418.0951 – Fax: +39.06.9418.0952
( ) Spain
Location: ESA/ESAC
Address: Urbanización Villafranca del Castillo, Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain
Opening hours: 8:30 - 13:30
Contact: Monica Oerke,
Tel + 34 91 813 13 27/59 – Fax: + 34 91 813 12 19

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