Preparations for ESA's Venus Express mission passed a newmilestone when the spacecraft was attached to its Fregat upper-stagerocket. The mission is now only two weeks away from launch on 26October.
The composite unit of the launch vehicle adapter (LVA)and the Venus Express spacecraft, together called the 'stack', has beenmechanically mated with the Fregat upper-stage rocket.
Theactivity was classified as 'hazardous' since both the spacecraft andthe Fregat upper-stage are already fully loaded with highly flammableand toxic propellant. Venus Express carries around 570 kilograms andFregat about 5000 kilograms of propellant.
The activity wascarried out by a combined team from the Venus Express industrialconsortium and the team from NPO-Lavotchkin who are designing andbuilding the Fregat upper-stage.
Next activities include theconnection of the umbilical cables between Fregat and the LVA, throughwhich the Venus Express spacecraft is powered and commanded while stillon the ground. This will be followed by a short spacecraft switch-onand functional test to provide a very basic validation of thespacecraft's on-board hardware.
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