ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander travel safely to Baikonur
Europe's second mission to Mars has begun its journey from its birthplace in Cannes to its planned arrival at Mars on October 19. Since December 17 we've been able to watch every step of its journey, thanks to a stream of tweets from Albert Haldemann. He is overseeing the spacecraft's assembly, integration, and verification, and closely monitored the three Antonov trips between Turin and Baikonur required to transport ExoMars and all its equipment, traveling on the third one. Tweeting from Baikonur was technical operations officer Remy van Haarlem. I've Storified their tweets here, but include a few highlights below.
I'll condense his next few tweets into paragraph form:
Wide load trucks are "convoi exceptionnel" and in France are allowed to travel after midnight. But the highway between Cannes and Turin via Savona is has major roadworks at night and would close, so @ESA_Exomars could leave at 19:00. At 21:00 a truck caught fire in a tunnel on the hwy from Savona to Turin---not @ESA_Exomars truck thank goodness...but stopped traffic. Lead vehicles w/ Thales personnel warned @ESA_Exomars trucks (going slower), so they left the hwy and took the old road over the pass. Then, past Mondevi, A6 hwy was thick with pea soup fog banks...and @ESA_Exomars trucks slowed further...arrived 05:00.
I'm very grateful to Haldemann and van Haarlem for permitting us this detailed view into ExoMars' journey across Europe and into Asia, and I wish them and the rest of the ExoMars team a prosperous new year of Marsward travel!
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