Venus Express spacecraft fires main engine

Feb 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: Astrophyicists draw most comprehensive map of the universe

Related Stories

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

Mar 02, 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 ...

Exploring the universe with nuclear power

Feb 02, 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, ...

Dawn snaps its best-yet image of dwarf planet ceres

Dec 05, 2014

The Dawn spacecraft has delivered a glimpse of Ceres, the largest body in the main asteroid belt, in a new image taken 740,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from the dwarf planet. This is Dawn's best image ...

UA student finds 'Hawaiian beach' sand on Mars

Oct 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —The world's largest database of minerals, developed and housed at the UA, enables NASA to identify the minerals that make up the soil on Mars. As a member of the science team on NASA's Curiosity ...

Recommended for you

The weird ways fire behaves in space (w/ Video)

27 minutes ago

Light a match on earth and you can expect the flame to shoot up in a tapering bulb. But light that match in space and you might not even recognize the small, blue orb at the tip. That's because fire behaves ...

Brian Schmidt discusses the fast-firing universe

1 hour ago

In 1998, a team led by a former Harvard graduate student shocked the astrophysics world by publishing results that said the expansion of the universe, believed to be gradually slowing, was instead accelerating.

Birth of a radio phoenix

3 hours ago

Abell 1033 is a cluster of over 350 galaxies located about 1.7 billion light-years away. Collisions between galaxies in clusters are common events, and each merger heats and shocks the nearby gas. The rapidly ...

User comments : 0

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.