View Full Version : ExoMars 2016 Orbiter and Lander Mated for March Launch

2016-Feb-23, 05:10 AM
Earth’s lone mission to the Red Planet this year has now been assembled into launch configuration and all preparations are currently on target to support blastoff from Baikonur at the opening of the launch window on March 14.
The ambitious ExoMars 2016 mission is comprised of a pair of European-built spacecraft named the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli lander, built and funded by the European Space Agency (ESA).
The duo now been assembled and mated by technician into their final launch configuration at Baikonur for launch atop a Russian Proton rocket.
After launch the pair will remain joined for the eight month long interplanetary journey to Mars until 16 October, at which time the Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing (EDL) demonstrator module will separate from the orbiter.
Three days later on October 19, TGO is slated to enter Mars orbit and Schiaparelli will begin its plummet through the thin Martian atmosphere and hoped for soft landing.
The mating operations commenced on February 12 with fueling of the orbiter in a mounting platform surrounding the orbiter that “facilitates the activities that need to be done about 4 meter off the ground,” according to ESA officials.
Over the following days, technicians then completed all the critical connections between the two spacecraft and conducted function tests to insure that all systems were operating as expected.
Specialists from the Airbus Defence and Space team also bonded the final few thermal protection tiles onto Schiaparelli.
The launch window extend until March 25.
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Ken Kremer (http://www.kenkremer.com)
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