Rosetta arrives in Italy.
19 May 2000The Rosetta Structural Thermal Model (STM) arrived safely in Turin today,marking the start of the next stage in the construction of ESA's cometchaser.
With its test programme at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in The Netherlands successfully completed, the STM was placed in a protective container and loaded onto a lorry trailer for the five day trans-European trek to northern Italy.
Illuminated by flashing lights, the lorry and its police escort left Noordwijk on 15 May for the slow passage through Germany and France, before entering Italy through the Frejus Pass.
With delivery at the Turin plant of Alenia Aerospazio now accomplished, the one tonne STM - stripped of its solar panels, antenna and lander - will be unloaded and moved to a giant clean room. Once the STM's scientific experiments are removed and returned to their owners, the main spacecraft structure will be refurbished for use as the Rosetta Electrical Qualification Model (EQM).
The EQM programme, which is intended to test electrical interfaces and functional performance of the scientific payload and subsystems, is scheduled to begin in July and to continue until early next year. However, with no time to waste if the launch date is to met, the first EQM versions of the scientific instruments have already begun to arrive at Alenia.
Preparations for the EQM programme have also started with the integration of an electrical harness on a test bed that will be used to check out onboard data handling and power supply units.
Meanwhile, the Rosetta Lander programme is continuing in Germany. The Lander STM has been returned to the Max-Planck-Institut in Lindau, while an EQM is being put together at the premises of the German Aerospace Research Centre (DLR) in Cologne. This is expected to be delivered to Alenia for integration on the Orbiter EQM in September.