Artist’s impression of the BepiColombo spacecraft in cruise configuration, flying past Earth and with the Sun in the background. Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab
The joint ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission will launch on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, setting a trio of spacecraft on course for Mercury. The spacecraft will travel together: a transfer module will carry the two science orbiters – the ESA Mercury Planetary Orbiter and the JAXA Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter – using a combination of solar power and electric propulsion, and nine gravity-assist flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury.
Lift-off is anticipated for around 01:45 GMT (03:45 CEST) on 29 October 2018, equivalent to 18 October 2018 22:45 in local time (GFT).
The date chosen represents the first option to launch, taking into account some additional, unplanned testing performed in Kourou. The launch window remains open until 29 November 2018.
“We have had a great start to our launch campaign in Kourou, and are on track for launch in less than ninety days,” says ESA’s BepiColombo project manager Ulrich Reininghaus. “We have an incredibly packed schedule, but it is great to see our spacecraft building up together for the final time.”
Since arriving at the Spaceport ...