ESA deploys 3 ESTRACK stations to support China’s maiden moon mission

November 14th, 2007 - 2:55 am ICT by admin  
Engineers at ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, in Darmstadt, Germany, will be ‘on the loop’ - in voice communication - with Chinese mission controllers at BACC, the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Centre, starting on November 1.

The mission was launched on October 24 2007 at 10:05 UTC (12:05 CEST) from Launch Pad 3 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in south-west China’s Sichuan Province.

The agency’s 15m European Space Tracking (ESTRACK) network stations at Maspalomas (Spain) and Kourou (French Guiana) will be used at the start of ESA’s tracking campaign and it will be joined later by ESTRACK’s DS1 - the giant 35m deep-space station at New Norcia, Australia.

According to an agency release, the three stations will rotate tracking duties during Chang’E-1’s cruise to the Moon, and will be in contact during the critical orbit insertion manoeuvres, scheduled for November 5, 6 and 7.

At certain points, Chang’E-1 will not be visible from China’s own tracking stations, making ESTRACK support essential for mission success, say agency astronomers.

“There has been a lot of preparation on the ESTRACK side, but we’re ready to go,” said John Reynolds, Operations Manager for ESTRACK in support to Chang’E-1.

ESA has previously provided ESTRACK services to China for the Double Star mission, which conducted joint studies - together with ESA’s Cluster - of the Sun’s effects on the Earth’s environment. (ANI)

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