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It’s been almost one and a half decades since a spacecraft was sent toward Mercury. Luckily, you’ll get the chance to watch a rocket do just that tonight.
BepiColombo, a European-Japanese initiative marks only the third mission to probe the solar system’s innermost planet. It launches tonight (Oct. 19) from Kourou, French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. Liftoff is set for 9:45 p.m. EDT (0145 GMT, Oct. 20), and you can watch the launch live at Space.com, thanks to the European Space Agency (ESA).
The broadcast will start at 9:15 p.m. EDT (0115 GMT, Oct. 20), with 30 minutes of commentary before the launch. The BepiColombo payload will be launched about 26 minutes into the flight and will signal mission control approximately 15 minutes after that. The broadcast is set to end at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT, Oct. 20).
As Asgardia works toward creating a demilitarized and free scientific base of knowledge in space, as well as setting up habitable platforms in low-Earth orbit, these missions are essential to follow.
The launch was approved on Wednesday (Oct. 17) after a final review of the spacecraft and rocket, which was introduced in preparation for launch yesterday.
If for some reason, the launch can’t happen at the scheduled time, liftoff will be delayed a full 24 hours. When ESA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA, announced their launch plans for this fall, they stated that the launch window for this mission would last until Nov. 29.
Once BepiColombo is deployed, it will begin the seven-year journey to Mercury. The trip takes so long since the spacecraft has to fight the gravitational pull of the sun. In December of 2025, two paired spacecraft will separate and orbit Mercury independently.
According to Spaceflight Now, the total cost of this missions is almost $2 billion, and it will last for a year, with a potential one-year extension. During that period, the two spacecraft will study a range of questions about Mercury. For example, the mission will measure the planet’s interior structure, examine surface features, and watch how the planet’s magnetic field interacts with the flow of charged particles that continually streams off the sun.
If you’re excited about this mission to Mercury and the answers, it could find then join Asgardia today and connect with forward-looking people.