New Venus Express launch date likely soon

Oct. 25, 2005 at 1:48 PM
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PARIS, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- An investigation into the delayed launch of the Venus Express spacecraft at Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome is reportedly going well.

The Paris-based European Space Agency, which last week scrubbed the Wednesday launch when particulate contamination was found in the launcher, says a new launch date is expected to soon be announced.

The launch was postponed when fairly large particles -- pieces of the insulating material initially covering the launcher's Fregat upper stage -- were found on the body of the spacecraft.

ESA officials Tuesday said the particles were being removed with tweezers, vacuum cleaners or nitrogen gas airbrushes, according to size.

The ESA said it's confident Venus Express will be launched before the launch window closes Nov. 24.

The spacecraft will make a 5-month trip to Venus, where it will examine the planet's atmosphere and determine, among other things, if Venus is volcanically or seismically active.

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