[meteorite-list] Rosetta Orbiter Rolls Into The Netherlands

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:47:12 2004
Message-ID: <200111191821.KAA13695_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

ESA Science News

19 Nov 2001

Rosetta orbiter rolls into the Netherlands

A little more than one year from now, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft will be
speeding through space at many thousands of kilometres per hour. In
comparison, the orbiter's stately journey across Europe this week was
fairly unspectacular, but the implications for the Rosetta programme
are immense.

Following the successful completion of their complex assembly,
integration and verification (AIV) campaigns on the premises of Alenia
Spazio in Turin, the two sections of Europe's comet chaser were
finally mated on 2 November. With the main structure of the orbiter
now assembled for the first time, the Rosetta hardware could be packed
and prepared for the 1000 kilometre trek to the European Space Research
and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands.

During the week of 12-16 November, no fewer than a dozen lorries were
slowly trundling across the continent, passing through the Frejus
tunnel into France, then up to the Low Countries.

"It was quite a major operation," said Walter Pinter-Krainer, principal
system AIV engineer for Rosetta. "The first lorry was arriving in ESTEC
as the last one was leaving Turin."

Pride of place was given to the flat-back lorry carrying the precious
Rosetta spacecraft. Illuminated by the flashing lights of a permanent
police escort, the spacecraft was carefully cocooned in a pressurised,
temperature-controlled container to protect it from damage or
contamination during the long journey. The fleet of vehicles was also
loaded with a mass of specialised equipment that is required for the
extensive environmental tests that will take place at ESTEC over the
coming months. This included all of the power, telemetry and
telecommunications equipment -- everything to electrically operate and
check out the spacecraft.

The load also included mechanical ground support equipment, such as
turntables and a multi-purpose trolley, that can be used to move,
tilt and manoeuvre the three tonne spacecraft in any direction.

Still other key items, notably the large dish of the high-gain antenna
and the spacecraft's two enormous solar 'wings', will be transported
to the Netherlands at a later date, since they are not immediately
needed for the forthcoming test programme.

"With the safe arrival of Rosetta at ESTEC, we can now begin the
all-important environmental tests on the complex spacecraft," said
Dr. John Ellwood, Rosetta project manager. "These will ensure that
it will be able to operate for many years in deep space, then complete
its exciting mission to rendezvous with Comet Wirtanen and deploy a
lander on the icy nucleus."

The exhaustive series of environmental tests, which will take place
over the next eight months, will simulate the hazardous conditions
that the spacecraft will experience in outer space -- extreme
temperatures, vibrations and an airless vacuum.

Rosetta is scheduled to be shipped to the Kourou launch site in South
America at the end of summer 2002.

For further information please contact:

Dr. John Ellwood
Rosetta project manager
ESTEC, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 71 565 3507
Email: john.ellwood_at_esa.int


* More about Rosetta
* The Rosetta spacecraft


[Image 1:
The Rosetta spacecraft arrived safely at ESTEC in the Netherlands.

[Image 2:
Upon arrival at ESTEC the Rosetta spacecraft is removed from the
flat-back lorry.

[Image 3:
A temperature-controlled container protected the spacecraft during its
1000 km journey which ended with its safe arrivak at the European Space
Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands.
Received on Mon 19 Nov 2001 01:21:34 PM PST

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