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Science & Exploration

N° 12–2006: Venus within ESA probe reach

31 March 2006

After its five-month, 400 million kilometre journey inside our solar system following its lift-off on 9 November 2005, ESA’s probe Venus Express 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 probe 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

The event will be covered on the web at The website will feature regular updates, including video coverage of the press conference and podcast from the control room at ESA’s 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)

Fax: +33(0)


Venus Express Orbit Insertion – Tuesday 11 April 2006

ESA/ESOC, Robert Bosch Strasse, 5 – Darmstadt (Germany)


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:_____________________


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) – fax: +33(0)

[ ] 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


For further information:

ESA Media Relations Division

Tel: +33(0)

Fax: +33(0)