Liftoff for Venus Express - Universe Today
ESA's Venus Express lifted off today atop a Russian Soyuz-Fregat rocket, beginning its journey to Venus. ESA's Space Operations Centre (ESOC) at Darmstadt, Germany made contact with the spacecraft two hours after liftoff, and reported that it has oriented itself correctly and deployed its solar arrays. Its onboard systems are working properly, and its low gain antenna is communicating back to Earth - the high-gain antenna will be deployed in three days. If all goes well, Venus Express will arrive at our closest planetary neighbour in April 2006 and begin orbiting maneuvers.