Herschel and Planck missions ready to move to launch site

February 9, 2009
Herschel in space, close up on its mirror. Credits: ESA (Image by AOES Medialab)

(PhysOrg.com) -- ESA’s Herschel and Planck missions that will study the formation of stars and galaxies and the relic radiation from the Big Bang, respectively, have successfully completed their test campaigns in Europe. The two spacecraft will soon be shipped to Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

On 6 February, ESA reviewed the status of the spacecraft and the results of the test campaigns that were carried out over the past year. Following the review, the spacecraft teams were given the green light to start the launch campaign, the final phase of spacecraft activities on Earth.

Built by Thales Alenia Space leading a host of subcontractors from across Europe, the Herschel spacecraft and its instruments were thoroughly tested at ESA’s Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, during 2008. The spacecraft, now packed in its container, will be transported to Kourou by plane on 11 February 2009.

Artist's impression of the Planck spacecraft. Credits: ESA (Image by AOES Medialab)

Planck, also built by Thales Alenia Space and its subcontractors, was initially tested at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes and at ESTEC, Final tests took place at the facilities of the Centre Spatial Liége, Belgium. The spacecraft will be transported to Kourou by plane on 18 February 2009.

Once at the Guiana Space Centre, the two spacecraft will undergo their final checks and be prepared for launch. Herschel and Planck are scheduled to launch into space in a dual launch configuration by an Ariane ECA rocket on 16 April 2009.

Provided by ESA

Explore further: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope structure stands tall

Related Stories

LRO discovers Earth's pull is 'massaging' our moon

September 15, 2015

Earth's gravity has influenced the orientation of thousands of faults that form in the lunar surface as the moon shrinks, according to new results from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft.

Solar Observatory discovers its 3,000th comet

September 15, 2015

On Sept. 13, 2015, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory—a joint project of the European Space Agency and NASA—discovered its 3,000th comet, cementing its standing as the greatest comet finder of all time. Prior to the ...

Recommended for you

How to prepare for Mars? NASA consults Navy sub force

October 5, 2015

As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it's tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine ...

Researchers find a new way to weigh a star

October 5, 2015

Researchers from the University of Southampton have developed a new method for measuring the mass of pulsars – highly magnetised rotating neutron stars formed from the remains of massive stars after they explode into supernovae.

NASA selects investigations for future key planetary mission

October 1, 2015

NASA has selected five science investigations for refinement during the next year as a first step in choosing one or two missions for flight opportunities as early as 2020. Three of those chosen have ties to NASA's Jet Propulsion ...


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.