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ESA's Venus Express spacecraft is Assembled.

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Venus Express.
Venus Express.

Engineers at the European Space Agency have completed the assembly of Venus Express; the agency's first mission to the cloud enshrouded planet. If everything goes well, Venus Express will lift off on board a Soyuz-Fregat rocket on October 25, 2005 and then travel through space for 153 days before arriving at Venus. Venus Express will make a thorough analysis of Venus' atmosphere using a suite of instruments.

The assembly of ESA's Venus Express spacecraft, ready for Europe's first mission to the second planet in the Solar System, is complete.

Often referred to as 'Earth’s twin’, Venus holds many mysteries that intrigue scientists. The main question is why a planet similar to Earth in size, mass and composition could have evolved so differently over the course of the last four thousand million years.

Venus Express will make the first multispectral global examination of the atmosphere of Venus. Completely different from the one around Earth, the Venusian atmosphere appears to be hot and dense. Venus Express will investigate the choking 'greenhouse’ effect, the hurricane-force winds that encircle the planet, and its mysteriously weak magnetic field.

Completion of assembly of the Venus Express spacecraft, including integration and testing of the flight equipment and experiments, at Alenia Spazio in Turin, Italy, is an important milestone.

Scheduled for launch on 26 October 2005, Venus Express is currently being made ready for shipment to Astrium, ESA’s prime contractor, in Toulouse, France, in mid-October this year. There, further tests to prove the spacecraft's flight readiness will take place.

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