Herschel and Planck get green light for launch campaign
9 February 2009ESA's Herschel and Planck missions have successfully completed their test campaigns in Europe and will be soon transported to Europe's spaceport at the Centre Spatial Guyanais in Kourou, French Guyana.
Green light to start the final phase of the spacecraft activities on Earth and to start the launch campaign has been taken on Friday 6 February, following the ESA Flight Qualification and Acceptance Review which examined the status of the two spacecraft and their response to the tests campaigns during the last year.
Built by Thales Alenia Space, leading a host of subcontractors spread around Europe, the Herschel spacecraft and its instruments were thoroughly tested at ESA's Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, during 2008. The spacecraft, now packed in its container, will be transported to Kourou on an Antonov cargo airplane on 11 February 2009.
Planck, also built by Thales Alenia Space and its subcontractors, was, after initial test campaigns at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes and a test campaign in ESTEC, finally tested in the facilities of the Centre Spatial Liège, Belgium. The spacecraft will be transported to Kourou, also by Antonov cargo airplane, on 18 February 2009.
Once at the Centre Spatial Guyanais, the two spacecraft will undergo their final checks and will be prepared for launch. Herschel and Planck will be launched in a dual launch configuration by an Ariane ECA rocket on 16 April 2009.
Editor's note: Readers can follow the launch campaign of Herschel and Planck via the Launch campaign journal series which will be available from this site.