BepiColombo, the trailblazing ESA mission heading to planet Mercury, lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 rocket on 20 October at 01:45 GMT. Following a successful LEOP completion, an extensive in-orbit commissioning phase started last week at the ESA Control Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. The LSE Space staff integrated in the ESA Mission Control Teams are still actively supporting the mission, covering the roles of Spacecraft Operations Engineers, Flight Dynamics Engineers and Simulations Officer (training the Mission Control Teams in the pre-launch phase).
About the mission.
BepiColombo is the first European mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System, and the first to send two spacecraft to make complementary measurements of the planet and its dynamic environment at the same time. The mission comprises two science orbiters: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The ESA-built Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) will carry the orbiters to Mercury using a combination of solar electric propulsion and gravity assist flybys. The appointment with the smallest and hottest planet of our Solar system is in seven years.
More from the ESA website.
Spacecraft Operations Engineer in the ESOC Main Control Room on the launch night. Photo: ESA/J.Mai