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ESA moves ahead with Venus Express
Posted: Wed, Nov 6, 2002, 2:12 PM ET (1912 GMT)
Venus Express illustration (ESA) The European Space Agency announced Wednesday that it was moving ahead with plans to fly the Venus Express mission after working out an agreement with Italy. ESA announced in a statement that it had reached an agreement with the Italian space agency ASI regarding its contribution to the mission. ASI will supply spare parts for three instruments and experiments to be flown on Venus Express, with ESA paying 8.5 million euros (US$8.5 million) to cover the rest of Italy's share of the mission. In exchange for the financial support, the science team for one of the spacecraft's instruments, VIRTIS, will be "further Europeanized", reducing Italy's involvement with that instrument. Venus Express, designed to be a low-cost Venus orbiter mission based on the same spacecraft bus as Mars Express, had been cut from the agency's long-term science program in May because of funding problems. However, ESA restored the mission in July at the request of the ESA Council, on the condition that Italy, the one country that had not confirmed its participation in the mission, agreed to contribute its share of the mission costs.
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