Inside the cleanroom with BepiColombo

ESA Web TV talks to BepiColombo project manager Ulrich Reininghaus inside the cleanroom at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, where the mission is undergoing final preparations for its launch to Mercury.

BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA and JAXA. It consists of two science orbiters – ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter – and the Mercury Transfer Module, which will use solar electric propulsion to carry the two orbiters to Mercury, along with gravity assist flybys at Earth, Venus and Mercury itself. It is Europe’s first mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored terrestrial planet in the inner Solar System.

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BepiColombo Simulation

Preparation is well under way for BepiColombo. Recently the long flight to Mercury was simulated at ESOC, ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, where it will be controlled during its journey after its launch from Kourou.

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BepiColombo launch to Mercury

Enjoy this animation visualising BepiColombo’s launch and cruise to Mercury. Some aspects have been simplified for the purpose of this animation.

The joint ESA-JAXA mission comprises the European Mercury Planetary Orbiter and Japan’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, which will be transported to the innermost planet by the Mercury Transfer Module. The animation highlights several key milestones, including the solar array and antenna deployments once in space, through to the arrival at Mercury seven years later. When approaching Mercury, the transfer module will separate and the two science orbiters, still together, will be captured into orbit around the planet. Their altitude will be adjusted until the Magnetospheric Orbiter’s desired orbit is reached. Then the Planetary Orbiter will separate and descend to its lower orbit, and the two craft will begin their scientific exploration of Mercury and its environment.

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Credits: ESA/ATG medialab

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One step closer to Mercury!

BepiColombo is one step closer to Mercury!

The component parts of BepiColombo, the European Space Agency’s first mission to Mercury, have been delivered to the launch site in French Guiana by air, sea and road.

The joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) consists of two orbiters and one transfer module. It required 70 shipping containers and four cargo planes to ensure it was safely delivered to the European Spaceport at Kourou.

Everything will now be unpacked and re-assembled, together with the addition of solar panels, before launching to Mercury later this year.

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To Mercury, via Europe’s Spaceport!

Activities surrounding the departure of ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) of the joint ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury, from ESA’s technical heart in the Netherlands to Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The video features the final preparations of the MPO in the ESA cleanroom, including removal of ground support equipment from a science instrument, and sealing the module inside its shipping container. The containers travelled by road to Amsterdam Schiphol airport, where they boarded an Antonov cargo plane for transport to French Guiana.

Three additional cargo planes carried JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter and ESA’s Mercury Transfer Module, along with the spacecraft solar arrays, sunshield, and essential ground support equipment to the Spaceport.

The upcoming launch window is open 5 October – 29 November 2018.

Find out more about the BepiColombo mission on

Credits: ESA

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