Astrium has today signed today a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) worth 82.4 million Euros for the design and development of Venus Express; the first European spacecraft slated to visit the planet Venus.
Venus Express is scheduled for launch from the BaÃ¯konur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in November 2005.
It will be launched by a Soyuz-Fregat rocket and put immediately into its transfer orbit to Venus where it will analyse prevailing atmospheric conditions. This analysis, to be carried out up to an altitude of 250 km above Venus, will give scientists a better understanding of long-term climatic evolution processes on Earth.
By re-using both the Mars Express spacecraft design and those spare instruments available from the earlier Mars Express and Rosetta programmes, Venus Express meets the triple challenge of its scientific objectives, its cost efficiency and its development schedule.
Astrium France is the prime contractor for the spacecraft whist Astrium UK is responsible for the mechanical and propulsion systems. Astrium GmbH will supply the solar arrays, the mass memory and high power supply system for transmissions (TWTA).