Planck spacecraft follows Herschel to launch site

Feb 20, 2009
The Planck spacecraft, inside its container, was depicted on 18 February 2009 on board the Antonov cargo plane that transported it from Ličge airport to Kourou, French Guyana. Credits: ESA

(PhysOrg.com) -- Planck, ESA’s microwave observatory that will study the relic radiation of the Big Bang, was shipped from Ličge, Belgium, to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 18 February. The spacecraft is scheduled to be launched in tandem with ESA’s Herschel infrared observatory on 16 April.

The spacecraft took off from Ličge airport on board an Antonov cargo plane early in the morning on 18 February and arrived at its destination that evening. This follows the earlier shipment of its sister spacecraft Herschel, which left for Kourou on 11 February.

Before it was shipped, Planck successfully underwent a thorough test campaign at the Centre Spatial Ličge. The spacecraft was subjected to environmental tests that simulated the conditions of space and tested its cooling system.

Now the launch campaign for both Herschel and Planck has officially begun in Kourou. The campaign involves teams of engineers and scientists from ESA, industry (led by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space France), science institutes, and Arianespace.

Like Herschel, Planck will undergo functional tests in the first phase of the campaign, to verify its health after transportation.

The second phase of the campaign involves the delicate operation of fuelling the hydrazine tanks — which will provide the fuel necessary for the spacecraft to manoeuvre in space — and to fill the helium tanks, part of the sophisticated cooling system that will keep Planck’s instruments at temperatures close to absolute zero during operation.

The third phase is the integration of the Herschel and Planck satellites with the Ariane 5 launcher that will carry them into space.

Provided by ESA

Explore further: Curiosity brushes 'Bonanza king' target anticipating fourth red planet rock drilling

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft's 10 years in space

Aug 05, 2014

Ten years ago, on August 3, 2004, NASA's MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a risky mission that would take ...

Spitzer spies an odd, tiny asteroid

Jun 19, 2014

(Phys.org) —Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have measured the size of an asteroid candidate for NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), a proposed spacecraft concept to capture either a ...

Venus Express gets ready to take the plunge

May 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —After eight years in orbit, ESA's Venus Express has completed routine science observations and is preparing for a daring plunge into the planet's hostile atmosphere.

NASA tests new robotic refueling technologies

Mar 06, 2014

NASA has successfully concluded a remotely controlled test of new technologies that would empower future space robots to transfer hazardous oxidizer – a type of propellant – into the tanks of satellites ...

Recommended for you

Electric sparks may alter evolution of lunar soil

2 hours ago

The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by University of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
not rated yet Feb 21, 2009
the 2.7°K so called "background radiation" is so uniform that it simply cannot be from a big bang. The whole (hole?) big bang theory is so contorted and full of crap it appears to have been written by a gaggle of tort lawyers.
Science is about simplicity and elegance.