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Arianespace to launch BepiColombo spacecraft in 2014

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An artistic representation of BepiColombo spacecraft. Photo: Arianespace.

EVRY (BNS): Arianespace will launch a BepiColombo spacecraft in July 2014 which is designed to explore planet Mercury, the company announced Thursday.

The spacecraft is a joint scientific mission led by ESA in conjunction with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

BepiColombo will be launched by using Ariane 5 ECA launcher from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

According to Arianespace, the spacecraft comprises two probes that will be injected into separate orbits around the planet: ESA's Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), and JAXA's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).

Each of these two probes will be fitted with a suite of high-precision instruments to carry out an exhaustive study of Mercury.

BepiColombo will be built by Astrium GmbH and weigh about 4,400 kg at launch. The spacecraft will leave the Earth with a hyperbolic excess velocity of 3.36 km/s, it said.

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