Ariane 5 has reached the launch zone for Arianespace’s history-making flight that will deploy Europe’s first mission to Mercury, BepiColombo – which is scheduled for liftoff tomorrow from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The completed Ariane 5 was transferred today atop its mobile launch table from the Final Assembly Building, where payload integration occurred, to the Spaceport’s dedicated ELA-3 launch complex. This activity set the stage for Arianespace’s seventh mission in 2018 across its full family of heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium Soyuz and lightweight Vega vehicles.
Utilizing the Ariane 5 ECA version, Arianespace’s mission has a precise moment of liftoff: October 19 at 10:45:28 p.m. local time in French Guiana. The launcher subsequently will inject its payload into an Earth escape orbit during a mission lasting nearly 27 minutes from liftoff to final separation.
Exploring the solar system’s smallest terrestrial planet
Built under the industrial leadership of Airbus, BepiColombo is a joint mission of the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. It was named in honor of Italian mathematician and engineer Giuseppe “Bepi” Colombo.
After arriving in late 2025, the multi-segment spacecraft will examine the peculiarities of Mercury’s internal structure and magnetic field generation, as well as how the planet interacts with the sun and solar wind. BepiColombo is scheduled for a one-year nominal mission, with the possibility for a one-year extension.
Tomorrow’s flight is designated VA245 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system and has an estimated payload performance of 4,241 kg. It will be the 23rd major scientific mission performed by the company to date.
Date: Oct 19, 2018