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MESSENGER spacecraft passes critical design review
Posted: Mon, Apr 1, 2002, 8:23 AM ET (1323 GMT)
MESSENGER illustration (JHUAPL) NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, the first Mercury orbiter mission, has passed a critical design review, project officials announced Friday. The successful completion of the four-day review clears the way for construction of the spacecraft to begin. MESSENGER, which stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, was selected in 1999 as part of NASA's Discovery program of low-cost planetary science missions. MESSENGER is scheduled for launch in 2004 and will make flybys of Mercury in 2007 and 2008 before going into orbit in 2009 for a one-year mission. The European Space Agency is planning its own Mercury orbiter mission, BepiColumbo, scheduled for launch in 2010.
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