A joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), BepiColombo is destined to survey the innermost planet of our solar system, Mercury, starting in 2015. The spacecraft just underwent vibration testing at a facility in the Netherlands.
During rocket launches, spacecraft and other cargo in the payload fairing are subjected to extreme vibrations, which can dislodge various components, and damage sensitive equipment. This is a major design issue, and one that requires special attention from engineers.
The structural and thermal model of BepiColombo was subjected to both horizontal and vertical vibration tests at the ESA European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC), in Noordwijk, South Holland. Both assessments were successfully completed.
The spacecraft is current scheduled to launch in 2015, aboard an Ariane V delivery system, and to reach Mercury in 2022. During its 7-year journey, it will perform flybys of Earth (1), the Moon (1), Venus (2) and Mercury (4), before finally settling into its science orbit.