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Herschel, Planck head for French Guiana

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Europe's spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre, Kourou Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja

PARIS (BNS): The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Herschel and Planck missions that will study the formation of stars and galaxies and the relic radiation from the Big Bang, respectively, have successfully completed their test campaigns in Europe and are set for launch on April 16. The two spacecraft are being shipped to Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Both spacecraft – Herschel and Planck- have been built by Thales Alenia Space leading a host of subcontractors from across Europe. Herschel will be shipped on Wednesday, while Planck will be sent a week later on February 18.

During 2008, Herschel spacecraft was tested at ESA’s Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, while Planck was initially tested at Thales Alenia Space in Cannes and at ESTEC. However, final tests took place at the facilities of the Centre Spatial Liège, Belgium.

Once at the Guiana Space Centre, the two spacecraft will undergo final checks before preparations for the launch. Herschel and Planck are scheduled to be launched into space in a dual launch configuration by an Ariane ECA rocket on April 16.

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