The Integral satellite, designed and built by Alenia Spazio, is leaving Italy
to carry out the environmental test campaign at the ESA-Estec laboratories in
The Netherlands before launch from Kazakhstan.

Alenia Spazio, a Finmeccanica company, and the European Space Agency today
presented to the scientific and industrial community involved and to
representatives of the press the status of the programme and the planning
of the test campaign that will bring INTEGRAL (INTErnational Gamma Ray
Astrophysics Laboratory), the biggest satellite ever built in Europe), to
its launch next year from the Baikonur base in Kazakhstan.

The INTEGRAL satellite, designed and built by Alenia Spazio in Turin, acting
as prime contractor to the European Space Agency, is therefore leaving Italy
and next July 16 it will be sent in a special container to the European
laboratories at ESTEC in The Netherlands.

INTEGRAL is a fundamental element of the European Space Agency’s long-term
science programme “Horizon 2000”. It is an astronomical observatory whose
main scientific purpose is to explore high-energy phenomena occurring in
nature — a typical study of Gamma-ray astronomy — that provide priceless
information on the evolution of our universe.

The satellite will use high-resolution spectroscopy, coupled with the ability
to produce high-definition images, to identify and study the celestial
sources of Gamma-ray emissions: White Dwarf Stars, Neutron Stars, potential
Black Holes, Novas, Supernovas, Galaxy Clouds and the centre of our Galaxy.

The final integration of INTEGRAL will be completed by the technicians of the
Italian company at the ESA-ESTEC space centre, with the delivery of the IBIS
scientific instrument, built in Italy by Laben. The environmental test
campaign will be completed in July 2002 before the final terrestrial voyage
of the space giant (nearly 4 tonnes) from the ESTEC laboratories to the
Baikonur base. Launch with the powerful PROTON vehicle will take place in
October 2002.

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