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Science & Exploration

N° 25–1993: EURECA, the European retrievable carrier ready to be brought back

18 May 1993

After 10 busy months in orbit at an altitude of about 500 km, the European Space Agency's Eureca satellite will be retrieved from Space by NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour, on the fourth day of the STS-57 mission currently scheduled for launch on 3 June 1993 (provisional launch window 2217h -2330h GMT = 0017h -0130h Paris time on 4 June). Physical contact between Endeavour's remote manipulator system (the robot arm in the Shuttle's cargo bay) and Eureca is planned to occur at 2324h GMT on 6 June (= 0124h Paris time on 7 June).

ESA's Space Operation Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, has full responsibility for the control and operation of Eureca, and is currently preparing for a series of orbital manoeuvres that will adjust Eureca's altitude and orbital phase to Endeavour's planned orbit. These manoeuvres are a prerequisite for the Shuttle's final approach : grappling of Eureca by its robot arm, its berthing in Endeavour's cargo bay and subsequent safe return to Earth. The final and decisive hours of these delicate and exciting flight operations of the STS-57 mission can be followed at the European Press Centre that will be set up in ESOC for the duration of the retrieval operations.
In the night of 6 to 7 June 1993, experts from ESA's Operations Control Centre will present the highlights of the Eureca mission and the details of the rendez-vous operations. Live images from Space will allow the audience to watch Endeavour as it approaches, grapples and stows Eureca in the cargo bay. At the end of the retrieval activities, a press conference with the Flight Operations Director, the Project Manager and the Project Scientist will conclude the night's programme.

The Presss Centre at ESOC will be open from 2230h on 6 June. The official programme will start at 2330h and will end at 0230h on 7 June. Media intending to follow the event are kindly requested to fill in and return the attached form to the ESOC Public Relations Office, preferably by fax (Nr. +49 6151- 90 2961).

Note to Editors
Eureca was launched on 31 July 1992 by Space Shuttle Atlantis and released into Space on 2 August by ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier operating the Shuttle's remote manipulator system. Eureca is the largest spacecraft ever built and flown by ESA, weighing 4500 kg and measuring 20 m across, and is the first to be returned to Earth for sample access and potential re-flight.
Eureca's 1000 kg multidisciplinary payload consists of 15 different active experiment facilities and three passive 'add-ons'. This ensemble made it possible to carry out successfully 71 individual experiments serving 31 scientists and researchers - the Principal Investigators - from 29 institutes in eight ESA member countries. The research undertaken using the Eureca payload ranges from exobiology to crystal growth, material processing, particle collection, surface physics, technology applications and scientific observation of the Earth's atmosphere, of the Sun and of celestial X-ray sources.