Flight International online news 09:00GMT: European Space Agency inspections of the Venus Express satellite have so far revealed the spacecraft to be in “good status.”

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The launch of the probe, which was originally planned for today, has been held back due to contamination found in the launcher fairing.

The rocket has now been transported to the Baikonur cosmodrome’s Upper Composite Integration Facility where ESA engineers have found “fairly large” pieces of insulating material initially covering the launcher’s Fregat upper stage, on the body of the spacecraft.

ESA says these have been easy to identify by naked eye or with UV lamps, and are being carefully removed with tweezers, vacuum-cleaners or nitrogen gas airbrushes, according to size.

The inspections and cleaning of Venus Express will continue over the next couple of days, focussing on the instrument optics and apertures.

The ESA Project team is confident the satellite will be launched well within the launch window, which closes on 24 November.


Source: Flight International