At 08:03 CEST this morning Venus Express started to slew, a manoeuvre that is providing the spacecraft with the right orientation for Venus orbit insertion. The slew manoeuvre will take about half an hour.
With this rotation the spacecraft orients itself so that the main engine faces the direction of motion.
In this attitude, the Venus Express main engine burn, to last for 50 minutes as of 09:17 CEST, will slow down the spacecraft and so allow itself to be captured by Venus’ gravity.
The ‘slew’ manoeuvre is part of the automatic sequence of commands uplinked to the spacecraft last Friday, 7 April 2006.
The spacecraft will operate in automatic sequence for the whole duration of the Venus orbit insertion phase, until 11:12 CEST, when the first communication link with Earth should be established.
All times above are 'Earth Received' time - i.e. after the actual events have taken place at the spacecraft. During orbit insertion, the spacecraft will be 125 000 000 kilometres from Earth and the round-trip signal time will be 13 minutes and 32 seconds.