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Default BepiColombo updates
by IronRain 11-01-2011, 07:06 PM

BepiColombo is Europe's first mission to Mercury. It will set off in 2014 (atop a Soyuz) on a journey to the smallest and least explored terrestrial planet in our Solar System. When it arrives at Mercury in November 2020, it will endure temperatures in excess of 350 °C and gather data during its 1 year nominal mission, with a possible 1-year extension. The mission comprises two spacecraft: the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), executed under ESA leadership.

The BepiColombo mission is based on two spacecraft:
  • a Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO); and
  • a Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO)
Among several investigations, BepiColombo will make a complete map of Mercury at different wavelengths. It will chart the planet's mineralogy and elemental composition, determine whether the interior of the planet is molten or not, and investigate the extent and origin of Mercury’s magnetic field.

Several launch methods have been extensively studied. In the selected scenario, BepiColombo will use the gravity of the Earth, Venus and Mercury in combination with the thrust provided by solar-electric propulsion (SEP). During the voyage to Mercury, the two orbiters and a transfer module, consisting of electric propulsion and traditional chemical rocket units, will form one single composite spacecraft. When approaching Mercury in 2020, the transfer module will be separated and the composite spacecraft will use rocket engines and a technique called 'weak stability boundary capture’ to bring it into polar orbit around the planet. When the MMO orbit is reached, the MPO will separate and lower its altitude to its own operational orbit. Observations from orbit will be taken for at least one Earth year with the possibility of an extension.






(off-topic: I was at ESTEC when they were doing some of these tests (mainly vibration tests) )

Last edited by IronRain; 11-01-2011 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 08-17-2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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ESA:
Good vibrations for BepiColombo

17 August 2012

Mimicking the intense vibrations experienced by a satellite during launch, the engineering model of the BepiColombo mission to Mercury has been subjected to similar forces at ESA’s spacecraft test facilities.

BepiColombo vertical vibration test


A major design issue for spacecraft arises from the intense environment experienced during launch, ranging from vigorous vibrations to deafening noise. It is essential to test spacecraft under similar conditions here on Earth, to ensure they will survive the violent ride to space.

In these videos of recent vibration tests, the BepiColombo structural and thermal model is in its launch configuration in the test facilities at ESTEC, ESA’s technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

BepiColombo is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to explore the properties of Mercury, the enigmatic innermost planet in our Solar System.

The spacecraft comprises a number of components. Seen here from top to bottom are the sunshield, which conceals the Japanese Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, with the European Mercury Planetary Orbiter below. Underneath is the Mercury Transfer Module, which will deliver the two scientific satellites into orbit around the planet.

BepiColombo horizontal vibration test


During the tests the spacecraft was mounted on a table where it was shaken up-and-down or from side-to-side to mimic the vibrations it will experience when it lifts off on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle in 2015.

Each test lasted for 2.5 minutes during which the frequency of the vibrations was increased from 3 Hz to 100 Hz. At the lowest frequencies the spacecraft movement reached 10 cm, which decreased as the frequency continued to rise.

Other mechanical tests to simulate the launch and voyage in space include exposing the spacecraft to the tremendous noise a rocket produces, the harsh vacuum of space, and scorching temperatures of some 450°C that the modules will endure as they orbit around the closest planet to the Sun.

The engineering model will also be subjected to the shocks generated during the separation of BepiColombo from the launcher, the separation of the individual spacecraft modules and the deployment of its solar arrays and antennas.

BepiColombo is scheduled to launch in 2015 and will arrive at Mercury in 2022. The two orbiters will study the planet’s composition, geophysics, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and geological history.

As the nearest planet to the Sun, Mercury has an important role in the story of planet formation. Mercury together with Venus and Mars make up Earth’s rocky neighbourhood. Each planet holds information necessary for understanding how the innermost planets of our Solar System formed and evolved.

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Old 08-18-2012, 01:30 PM   #3
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Interesting paper, including trajectory diagrams: http://www.brera.inaf.it/schiaparell...M_Novara_2.pdf (I suspect the dates, and therefore the trajectories, are now inaccurate but interesting nonetheless).
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Old 08-28-2012, 10:11 AM   #4
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ESA:
The shock of separation

27 August 2012

The BepiColombo mission to Mercury has undergone a series of shock tests at ESA’s test facilities to replicate conditions it will experience during its intense ride into space. This video shows tests to mimic the moment it separates from the launch vehicle.



The spacecraft will be connected to the upper stage of an Ariane 5 rocket when it blasts off from Earth in 2015. Once the upper stage and its cargo have reached orbit, the pair will separate.

This is achieved via a pyrotechnic device that will fire open a clamp band, allowing springs to push the spacecraft safely away from the upper stage.

The firing of the pyrotechnic device causes a mechanical shock that transmits through the spacecraft.

To ensure the components of BepiColombo will survive these shocks, and others that occur at fairing opening, rigorous assessments are being carried out at the spacecraft test facilities at ESTEC, ESA’s technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

To simulate the launch vehicle separation, the spacecraft structural and thermal test model was suspended from an overhead crane above blocks of foam rubber.

Compressed gas, rather than a pyrotechnic device, opened the clamp and the launch vehicle assembly unit dropped onto the cushioned surface.

At the same time, a number of accelerometers mounted on the spacecraft measured the effect of the shock.

Other mechanical tests to simulate the launch and voyage in space include exposing the spacecraft to the tremendous noise a rocket produces, the harsh vacuum of space, and scorching temperatures of some 450°C that the modules will endure as they orbit around the closest planet to the Sun.

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Old 10-13-2012, 07:17 AM   #5
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Universe Today: BepiColombo – Mission to Mercury
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:38 PM   #6
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Space News: Thales Alenia Space To Build BepiColombo Components:
Quote:
PARIS — Thales Alenia Space Italy has signed a contract valued at 200 million euros ($260 million) with Astrium GmbH of Germany to provide telecommunications, thermal control and electric-power systems for Europe’s $1 billion BepiColombo Mercury orbiter, Thales Alenia Space announced Dec. 5.

The contract comes five years after the two companies signed an original authorization to proceed that allowed hardware design to begin.

BepiColombo, whose budget and schedule have slipped on several occasions as the satellite grew in weight, forcing a launch aboard a heavy-lift Ariane 5 instead of a medium-lift Soyuz rocket, is currently scheduled for launch in 2015.

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Old 07-06-2017, 02:00 AM   #7
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Default BepiColombo’s journey to Mercury

ESA:Preparing for Mercury: BepiColombo Stack Completes Testing

BBC News Article: BepiColombo: 'Last chance to see' Mercury mission

BepiColombo will be launched on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It will use the gravity of Earth, Venus and Mercury in combination with the thrust provided by electric propulsion, to reach Mercury.



Quote:
Based on an October 2018 launch date, the spacecraft will have a 7.2 year cruise, with one Earth flyby (April 2020), two Venus flybys (October 2020 and August 2021) and six Mercury flybys between October 2021 and January 2025 before arriving in orbit at the end of 2025.

The Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) will voyage to Mercury together as a single composite spacecraft, with the Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) providing power and propulsion.

When approaching Mercury, the transfer module will separate and the two spacecraft, still together, will be captured into a polar orbit around the planet. Their altitude will be adjusted using MPO’s thrusters until MMO’s desired elliptical polar orbit of 590 x 11640 km above the planet is reached. Then MPO will separate and descend to its own 480 x 1500 km orbit using its thrusters. The fine-tuning of the orbits is then expected to take three months, after which, the main science mission will begin.
Source

Vibration Test:



Mercury Transfer Module solar wing deployment:


Last edited by Nicholas Kang; 07-06-2017 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 07-07-2017, 12:29 AM   #8
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Spaceflight: Minutes of terror an excitement, followed by years of boredom.
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Old 04-23-2018, 08:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Title BepiColombo plasma simulation
Released 23/04/2018 8:00 am
Copyright ESA/Félicien Filleul
Description
When the Mercury Transfer Module of the BepiColombo mission fires its electric propulsion thrusters an ion beam is extracted. This is created through the ionization of xenon propellant, generating the charged particles that can be accelerated further using an electric field.
Together with gravity assist flybys at Earth, Venus and Mercury, the thrust from the ion beam provides the means to travel to the innermost planet.
http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Ima...sma_simulation
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:20 AM   #10
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I'm really looking forward to this mission. Have seen it closely at ESTEC a couple of times. Also hoping that someone (look at you Brian! ) is creating this.
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Old 05-17-2018, 03:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Copy of BepiColombo Mercury mission goes on display
By Jonathan Amos
BBC Science Correspondent
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44129711

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Old 05-22-2018, 10:21 AM   #12
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All arrived at Kourou!



Quote:
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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Old 05-22-2018, 10:50 AM   #13
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Imagine working on a project for 14 years, and getting this close to launch...
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Old 06-12-2018, 09:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Title Hand-sewn insulation blankets
Released 12/06/2018 9:00 am
Copyright ESA–B. Guillaume
Description
One of the main activities in recent weeks for the BepiColombo team at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou has been the installation of multi-layered insulation foils and sewing of high-temperature blankets on the Mercury Planetary Orbiter.
The insulation is to protect the spacecraft from the extreme thermal conditions that will be experienced in Mercury orbit.
http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Ima...ation_blankets
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Old 07-02-2018, 09:11 AM   #15
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Quote:
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.
http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Vid...nch_to_Mercury
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