Darmstadt, April 11, 2006 – After a journey of nearly five months and 400
million kilometres, Venus Express was successfully inserted into orbit
around Venus this morning at 11:07 BST by the joint operations team of the
European Space Agency and EADS Astrium.
The joint team fired the 400 Newton main engine for 50 minutes to slow the
probe sufficiently for it to be captured by Venus’s gravity. Venus Express
is now ready to start its "two Venus years mission" (approx. 500 Earth-days)
to investigate the structure, composition and dynamics of the Venusian
atmosphere using its seven scientific instruments. The probe will orbit
Venus passing above its poles at an altitude of between 250 and 66,000 km.
Venus Express is the first European spacecraft to visit the planet Venus,
the second planet in our solar system. The probe was designed and built for
the European Space Agency, in only 33 months, under the prime contractorship
of EADS Astrium (France) and was launched 9 November 2005 from the Baikonour
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
In the UK, EADS Astrium designed, built and tested the spacecraft’s
propulsion system at its Stevenage facility. The thermal control system for
the chemical propulsion system (CPS) was also built and fitted in the UK.
EADS Astrium UK was also responsible for spacecraft level mechanical
analysis and test activities, fuelling the spacecraft at the launch site,
and mission support for CPS matters.
EADS Astrium is Europe’s leading satellite system specialist. Its activities
cover complete civil and military telecommunications and Earth observation
systems, science and navigation programmes, and all spacecraft avionics and
EADS Astrium is a subsidiary of EADS SPACE. In 2005 EADS SPACE had a
turnover of €2.7 billion and 11,000 employees in France, Germany, the United
Kingdom and Spain.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2005,
EADS generated revenues of €34.2 billion and employed a workforce of more