Venus Express spacecraft fires main engine

February 20, 2006
Venus Express set for liftoff

One hundred days after its launch to Venus, the European Space Agency's Venus Express has successfully tested its main engine for the first time in space.

The main engine test was a critical step in the mission since that engine will be used to slow the spacecraft on its arrival at Venus and allow it to be captured in orbit around the planet.

The Paris-based ESA said the Feb. 16 test lasted about 3 seconds, allowing the spacecraft to change its velocity and point its high-gain antenna to Earth to communicate with ground control.

The next milestone is the Venus Orbit Insertion maneuver will occur April 11 when the main engine will fire for about 51 minutes, allowing the spacecraft to counteract the pull of the sun and Venus and begin orbiting the planet, the ESA said.

Venus Express is more than 29 million miles from Earth.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Venus

Related Stories

Venus

July 27, 2015

As the morning star, the evening star, and the brightest natural object in the sky (after the Moon), human beings have been aware of Venus since time immemorial. Even though it would be many thousands of years before it was ...

Mariner 4 to Mars, 50 years later

July 15, 2015

July 14 marks 50 years of visual reconnaissance of the solar system by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), beginning with Mariner 4's flyby of Mars in 1965.

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

March 2, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters orbit around ...

Exploring the universe with nuclear power

February 2, 2015

In the past four decades, NASA and other space agencies from around the world have accomplished some amazing feats. Together, they have sent manned missions to the Moon, explored Mars, mapped Venus and Mercury, conducted ...

Recommended for you

New nanomaterial maintains conductivity in 3-D

September 4, 2015

An international team of scientists has developed what may be the first one-step process for making seamless carbon-based nanomaterials that possess superior thermal, electrical and mechanical properties in three dimensions.

Astronomers detect the farthest galaxy yet with Keck telescope

September 4, 2015

A team of Caltech researchers that has spent years searching for the earliest objects in the universe now reports the detection of what may be the most distant galaxy ever found. In an article published August 28, 2015 in Astrophysical ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.