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Venus Express ready for lift-off

19/10/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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ESA's Venus Express spacecraft is to be launched on a Soyuz-Fregat launcher from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday 26th October 2005.

Venus Express is Europe's first mission to Venus, a place of many mysteries that scientists are still eager to solve. Principal among those mysteries is why a planet so similar to Earth in size, mass, and composition has evolved so differently over the course of the last 4600 million years.

ESA's ESOC establishment, the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, will control the mission and organise a launch event from 06:00 to 12:00.

A live televised transmission of the launch will bring images from Baikonur to broadcasters and the general public. ESA senior management and specialists will be on hand at ESOC and at other ESA establishments for explanations and interviews.

All live transmissions are carried free-to-air. For broadcasters, complete details of the various satellite feeds (on Eutelsat W2) are listed at http://television.esa.int.

On the occasion of the launch of Venus Express, the Planetary Society has teamed up with ESA to invite youths and adults worldwide to enter a Venus Express Art Contest. The theme of the contest is 'Postcards from Venus'. Entrants are invited to imagine the surface of Venus from an above-ground perspective. The winner will be invited to follow the Venus Orbit Insertion event at ESA's control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, on 6th April 2006.

More on the contest over at http://planetary.org/postcards_from_venus/

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