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European Mission Turns Spotlight Back on Venus

Published by spacecowboy on Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:28 pm
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By Michael A. Taverna
11/13/2005 10:15:44 PM


The first Venus mission in 15 years–and the only one planned this decade–is off on a five-month journey to our nearest planet following a successful launch last week.

The 1.2-metric-ton Venus Express, built by EADS Astrium and Alcatel Alenia Space, blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 9 atop a Starsem Soyuz-Fregat booster. Immediate indications were that all systems were functioning normally.

The Fregat upper stage ignited a first time 9 min. into the flight, maneuvering the spacecraft into a low Earth parking orbit. A second firing, 1 hr., 22 min. later, boosted the probe into its interplanetary trajectory.

It was the year’s second Starsem mission, after PanAmSat’s Galaxy 14 in August.

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