The structural model of the Mars Express spacecraft arrived at Intespace,
Toulouse on 29 August to begin its first system level test campaign. During
this six-week campaign, the spacecraft will be subjected to mechanical
qualification tests to ensure the integrity of the structure during launch.

The structural model consists of the flight structure, flight propulsion
system and mass models of most of the equipment units. The mass models, which
are typically of similar form to the flight units, represent the mass of each
unit bolted onto its assigned panel. Exceptions include the high gain antenna
which is an engineering model and will eventually become the spacecraft flight
spare unit. In this case, the materials used and the form are exactly as for

Other exceptions include the solar array units and the Beagle-2 lander, both
of which are appendages with significant mass. The dummies for these units
model not only the bolt down interface and mass, but also each unit’s
flexibility, thus allowing their response to vibration during launch to be

To provide a realistic launch scenario, the spacecraft’s fuel tanks will be
filled with simulated fuel and oxidiser during the tests. When the tests are
completed, the spacecraft will return to Alenia Spazio in Turin to begin the
final flight integration of equipment and experiments in November.


* Mars Express home page

On 29 August 2001, the structural model of the Mars Express model arrived at
Intespace, Toulouse to begin its first system level test campaign.