Review Board gives green light for Rosetta
20 November 2002With less than two months to launch, ESA's Rosetta comet chaser is undergoing final preparations at Kourou spaceport in French Guiana. Confidence is high after the green light was given by the Rosetta Mission Flight Readiness Review Board on 13 November 2002.
As engineers continued to ready the spacecraft for its 10-year interplanetary odyssey, about 40 representatives of ESA and participating countries met in Kourou to assess the flight readiness of the most ambitious robotic space mission ever undertaken by Europe.
The Mission Flight Readiness Review Board - which comprised senior members of the Agency - was co-chaired by Professor David Southwood, ESA Science Director, and Rene Bonnefoy, the ESA Inspector General. The Rosetta Scientific Principal Investigators also attended the review to present the status of the ground calibration of their instruments.
After carefully reviewing all aspects of the mission, the Board declared itself fully satisfied with the state of the spacecraft, the payload, the Lander and the ground segment.
"I am delighted to say that the Board identified no 'show stoppers' that will cause us to delay the launch," declared John Ellwood, Rosetta Project Manager. "There are still some areas relating to preparation of the launch vehicle that are a little behind schedule, but we are confident that they will be completed in the next few weeks."
Meanwhile, the 3-tonne Rosetta Orbiter has been assuming its final form inside the spacecraft preparation facility at Kourou. First the 2.2 metre diameter high-gain antenna was carefully lifted into place and integrated with the spacecraft's main structure. Then the huge solar arrays - each 14 metres in length - were gingerly extended and stacked against the side of the Orbiter.
Once the all-embracing thermal blankets are once again wrapped around the intrepid comet explorer, the way will be clear for the filling of its fuel tanks and integration with the Ariane-5 launcher.
The launch of Rosetta is scheduled for the night of 12-13 January 2003.