Venus Express ready for the off
The journey to Venus will take 153 days, plus a further 5 days to move into orbit about the planet.
Additional inspections and cleaning of the top section delayed the launch several days.
Soyuz-Fregat is now ready to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it has been on the launch pad since 5 November undergoing final preparations.
All eyes on Venus
The probe will fly around Venus in a quasi-polar orbit, at an altitude of 250 to 66,000 km.
CNES is involved in this European mission and is contributing to 3 science experiments.
The Virtis1 and Spicav2 spectrometers will analyse the planet’s atmosphere, while the Aspera-43 instrument will study its ionized environment.
The Venus Express mission has taken only 4 years from concept to launch.
The project got underway in 2001 and the satellite is derived directly from Mars Express and re-uses some of its subsystems.
ESA selected EADS Astrium to build the spacecraft in October 2002.
1 Virtis : Visible and InfraRed Thermal Imaging Spectrometer
2 Spicav : SPectroscopy for the Investigation of the Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus
3 Aspera-4 : Analyser of Space Plasmas and EneRgetic Atoms