Integral launch in April 2002
19 April 2000Following a detailed status review of ESAs gamma-ray observatory a new launch date has been selected. A Russian Proton rocket will put Integral into orbit on 22 April 2002.
Building the Integral spacecraft is the task of a large team of several hundred experts spread all over Europe. Whereas assembling the satellites service module at the Italian space company Alenia in Turin is well under way, constructing the scientific instruments at different European science institutes has turned out to be more time-consuming than expected. ESA has therefore decided to postpone the planned launch from October 2001 to April 2002. "Integral's instruments are huge", said Project Manager Kai Clausen. "It isnt something that you can put on a laboratory table and thus it takes a lot of time to develop, build and test them."
At a status review presented to the Director of the Science Programme on 10 April 2000 at ESAs space research and technology centre (ESTEC) at Noordwijk, the Netherlands, experts reported about the work that has been done and the tasks that still have to be fulfilled. All scientific instruments will have to be ready to be mounted on the payload module at Alenia 12.5 months before launch. "Our schedule depends on the delivery of the two big instruments, the Spectrometer and the Imager", said Kai Clausen. 6 April 2001 is the deadline for the last instrument, the Spectrometer, to arrive at Turin. Then system function and validation tests will show if the spacecraft operates as planned. After transportation to ESTEC, payload calibration and structural and thermal tests will have to guarantee that the observatory will gather scientific data as expected. In February 2002, two months before launch, the spacecraft will be shipped to Baikonur, Kazakhstan