Opening the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter transport container
The BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) Proto-Flight Model (PFM) structure hardware arriving at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, in December 2012. It has just travelled from the Stevenage (UK) facility of Astrium, where the chemical propulsion subsystem and the network of surface heat pipes were integrated and tested. Thales Alenia Space will perform further integration of the spacecraft under the direction of the Prime Contractor, Astrium GmbH. The orbiter is packed in a specially built transport container that provided it with protection against vibration and shocks. The container has been cleaned and the outer protective cover has been removed. An overhead crane is lifting the top of the container to reveal the spacecraft structure.