original release

After its five-month, 400-million-kilometre journey inside our Solar System following its lift-off on 9 November 2005, ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft will finally arrive on 11 April at its destination: planet Venus.

Venus Express mission controllers at the ESA Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, are making intensive preparations for orbit insertion.

This comprises a series of telecommands, engine burns and manoeuvres designed to slow the spacecraft down from a velocity of 29000 km per hour relative to Venus, just before the first burn, to an entry velocity some 15% slower, allowing the spacecraft to be captured into orbit around the planet.

The spacecraft will have to ignite its main engine for 50 minutes in order to achieve deceleration and place itself into a highly elliptical orbit around the planet. Most of its 570 kg of onboard propellant will be used for this manoeuvre. The spacecraft’s solar arrays will be positioned so as to reduce the possibility of excessive mechanical load during engine ignition.

Over the subsequent days, a series of additional burns will be done to lower the orbit apocentre and to control the pericentre. The aim is to end up in a 24-hour orbit around Venus early in May.

The Venus Orbit Injection operations can be followed live at ESA establishments, with ESOC acting as focal point of interest (see attached programme). In all establishments, ESA specialists will be on hand for interviews.

ESA TV will cover this event live from ESOC in Darmstadt. The live transmission will be carried free-to-air. For broadcasters, complete details of the various satellite feeds are listed at http://television.esa.int.

The event will be covered on the web at venus.esa.int. The website will feature regular updates, including video coverage of the press conference and podcast from the control room at ESA’s Space Operations Centre.

Media representatives wishing to follow the event at one of the ESA establishments listed below are requested to fill in the attached registration form and fax it back to the place of their choice.

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Division
Tel : +33(0)
Fax: +33(0)

Venus Express Orbit Insertion ­ Tuesday 11 April 2006
Robert Bosch Strasse, 5
Darmstadt (Germany)


07:30 Doors open

08:45 Start of local event, welcome addresses

09:10 ESA TV live from Mission Control Room (MCR) starts

09:17 Engine burn sequence starts

09:45 Occultation of spacecraft by Venus starts

09:55 Occultation ends

10:07 Main engine burn ends

10:20 Address by Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General, and other officials

Break and buffet Interview opportunities

11:30-12:15 Press Conference – Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General, ESA Prof. David Southwood, Director of Science, ESA Gaele Winters, Director of Operations and Infrastructure, ESA Manfred Warhaut, Flight Operations Director, ESA Håkan Svedhem, Venus Express Project Scientist, ESA Don McCoy, Venus Express Project Manager, ESA

13:15 End of event at ESOC