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Venus Express spacecraft, integrated by Alcatel Alenia Space, ready for launch


Alcatel Alenia Space, the European reference in space science programs

Paris, November 7, 2005 - The Venus Express spacecraft, designed to explore the Venusian atmosphere, will be launched on November 9th, from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Venus Express, integrated by Alcatel Alenia Space, is part of the European Space Agency’s first mission to Earth’s nearest neighbor planet. Alcatel Alenia Space, the European reference in space science programs especially after the successful landing of the Huygens probe on Titan earlier this year, is strongly involved in this new program to better understand our Universe.

Alcatel Alenia Space is ESA’s contractor for the assembly, integration and testing of the spacecraft and has defined and provided the related ground support equipment. The company has also built two of the satellite’s S/X-band transponders for the link between the probe and the Earth. The assembly of the satellite has been done in Alcatel Alenia Space’s site in Turin, Italy. The assembly, integration and testing activity was conducted and concluded on schedule to meet the launch date, as committed by Alcatel Alenia Space 28 months ago at contract signature.

Considered as the Earth’s twin in terms of size and mass, Venus has evolved in a radical manner with higher temperature and noxious gases as atmosphere. Venus Express will be able to study Venus’s atmosphere, plasma environment and surface in details, providing useful information on the role of the strongest ’greenhouse effect’ found in the Solar System, as well as the structure and dynamics of the clouds and the mysterious ultraviolet markings detected above the cloud cover. All these aspects still remain unexplained even though more than 20 space missions have visited Venus since 1964. The Venus Express mission will travel through space for 162 days to be captured by the Venusian gravity in April 2006. After 5 days of maneuvering to be placed into operational orbit, the probe will be able to supply scientific data during the 500 days of the mission (two Venusian years).

Building on the experience of Mars Express, the scientific spacecraft to study the atmosphere of Mars and map the geology of its surface and subsurface, and Rosetta, designed to reach and study the nucleus of a comet in situ, Venus Express re-uses heritage space instruments which will provide different scientific experiments.

The acquired expertise from those projects is expected to be a major asset in meeting future challenges. Alcatel Alenia Space is deeply involved with Aurora, the ESA’s Program for human exploration of the Solar System. Moreover, in the frame of the ESA Cosmic Vision program, Alcatel Alenia Space is currently leading the definition studies of the two next cornerstone missions: BepiColombo (to explore Mercury) and GAIA which will chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy.

About Alcatel Alenia Space
Alcatel Alenia Space, leader in satellite systems and at the forefront of orbit infrastructures, brings together the vast experience and know-how of Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio to form a new leading force in European space technology. Alcatel Alenia Space represents a worldwide standard for space development that impacts everybody’s future: from navigation to telecommunications, from meteorology to environmental monitoring, from defence to science and observation. An affiliate of Alcatel (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%), Alcatel Alenia Space generated an estimated turnover of 1.8 billion euros with around 7,200 people in 2004.

About Alcatel
Alcatel provides communications solutions to telecommunication carriers, Internet service providers and enterprises for delivery of voice, data and video applications to their customers or employees. Alcatel brings its leading position in fixed and mobile broadband networks; applications and services, to help its partners and customers build a user-centric broadband world. With sales of EURO 12.3 billion and 56,000 employees in 2004, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries.


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