This year saw ESA’s science exploration mission BepiColombo begin its seven year cruise to the innermost planet of our Solar System: Mercury. This timelapse recalls some of the preparations that went into readying the mission at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The mission, a joint endeavour between ESA and JAXA, comprises three spacecraft modules: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter that will study all aspects of Mercury from their complementary orbits around the planet, and ESA’s Mercury Transfer Module that will bring them to the planet using a combination of solar electric propulsion and nine planetary flybys.
The video includes testing of the individual spacecraft units, stacking of the three modules and a protective sunshield into their launch configuration, integration of the spacecraft inside the launcher fairing, roll out to the launch pad, and finally launch itself. The mission lifted off at 01:45:28 GMT on 20 October 2018.
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