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Mercury spacecraft moves closer to launch

BepiColombo, a joint European-Japanese spacecraft destined for the planet Mercury, has passed a “milestone” pre-launch test.

The European Space Agency announced yesterday that it had successfully tested BepiColombo in its launch configuration. The craft will now be taken apart until it is reassembled at its launch site next year.

BepiColombo has three parts: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter, Japan’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter and the Mercury Transport Module. Once the transport module reaches Mercury, the two orbiters will separate and take complementary measurements of the planet’s interior, surface and atmosphere.

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