The Mercury Transfer Module (foreground, with two large solar wings) carries the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (middle, with one solar wing pointing up) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (hidden inside the solar shield, on the far side) to Mercury. Image credit: ESA/ATG medialab
Following a series of tests conducted in space over the past five months, the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission has successfully completed its near-Earth commissioning phase and is now ready for the operations that will take place during the cruise and, eventually, for its scientific investigations at Mercury.
BepiColombo started its seven-year long journey to the Solar System’s innermost planet on 20 October 2018, lifting off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
After completing the launch and early orbit phase on 22 October 2018, an extensive series of in-orbit commissioning activities started. During this near-Earth commissioning phase, which was concluded on 16 December 2018, the European and Japanese mission teams performed tests to ensure the health of BepiColombo’s science instruments, its propulsion and other spacecraft platform systems.
On 26 March 2019, a review board confirmed that the overall capabilities and performance at the end of the near-Earth commissioning phase meet the mission requirements.