Bepi-Colombo joint mission is on its way to Mercury thanks to Ariane 5 launch

by | Oct 22, 2018 | ESA, exploration, JAXA, Satellites, Science, Seradata News

At 0145 GMT on 20 October 2018, an Ariane 5 ECA rocket successfully launched the Bepi-Columbo unmanned joint mission to Mercury. There are two main spacecraft plus a carrier spacecraft on the mission.

The Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) can be regarded as the main transfer and delivery spacecraft. It is carrying three cameras to monitor the deployment of antennas and the other spacecraft. Attached to the MTM are the JAXA Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) and the ESA Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO). To protect the spacecraft from the harsh solar environment, a Magnetospheric Orbiter Sunshield and interface Structure (MOSIF) have been fitted.

Using electric propulsion and gravity assists, the MTM’s flight to the planet involves two Venus flybys followed by a succession of six flybys of the planet Mercury itself before its final orbital insertion in December 2025.

ESA’s MPO will go into an orbit around Mercury of approximately 1500 x 400 km above its surface, from where it will use a high-resolution imaging camera to map the planet. Meanwhile JAXA’s MMO will use a highly elliptical orbit to map Mercury’s magnetic field.

Bepi-Columbo mission’s three spacecraft joined: MTM firing its engines, MPO ahead of that, and MMO inside the collar of the sunshield. Courtesy: ESA



About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

Thinking about molten Mercury on the edge of Lake Constance

Hyperbola is a technology orientated spaceflight blog by Flight's technical reporter Rob Coppinger

SpaceX launches first planned Transporter rideshare mission of 2022 carrying over 100 satellites

The SpaceX Transporter-3 rideshare mission launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 1525 GMT, 13 January carrying over 100 satellites. The Read more

Russian cosmonauts make spacewalk to work on Prichal module

Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, current commander of Expedition 66, and Peytr Dubrov, made a spacewalk from the International Space Station Read more

ESA confirms that Sentinel 1B’s radar is still knocked out by power issue

Sentinel-1B, a key Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite of the ESA/EU Copernicus Earth observation and monitoring programme, has failed in Read more

Intelsat orders two further software-defined GEO sats, but this time from Thales

Intelsat has ordered two geostationary (GEO) satellites with new "software-defined payloads" from Thales Alenia Space (TAS). The contract announced on Read more

Tianzhou-2 freighter is remotely undocked and redocked with Chinese Space Station

Taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) aboard the Chinese Space Station (CSS) conducted a manual remote undocking involving the unberthing from the forward Read more

SpaceX kicks off 2022 with a Starlink launch from Florida

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket at 2149 GMT on 6 January 2022 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, Read more

Arianespace collects launch orders for eight Galileo satellites and for a pair of Italian PLATiNO satellites

Arianespace got the year off to a good start with the announcement of the ESA and European Union Agency for Read more