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June 20th, 2019

Taking JUICE to Jupiter as ESA Signs Arianespace for the Launch

Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) have announced the signature of a launch services contract with an Ariane launch vehicle for JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer).

JUICE — the JUpiter ICy moons Explorer — is the first large-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. Its mission is devoted to complete a unique tour of the Jupiter system. JUICE will spend at least three years making detailed observations of the giant gaseous planet Jupiter and in-depth studies of three of its largest moons as well as the potentially ocean-bearing satellites, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

Artistic rendition of JUICE exploring Jupiter. Image is courtesy of ESA.

The JUICE mission will use an Ariane 5 or an Ariane 64 launch vehicle, with the launch period starting in mid-2022 — depending on the final launch slot from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America). With the currently nominal launch window in May 2022, the mission would end in June 2033.

The satellite will have a mass at liftoff of approximately six tons and will be placed in an Earth escape orbit toward Jupiter initiating a journey of 600 million kilometers. After a 7.5-year cruise toward Jupiter — which includes gravitational assists from Earth, Venus and Mars — the spacecraft will enter orbit around the giant planet in October 2029. The Jupiter tour includes several flybys of each planet-sized world, and it ends with orbit insertion around Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System.

JUICE will carry the most powerful scientific payload ever flown to the outer Solar System consisting of 10 state-of-the-art instruments plus one science experiment that uses the spacecraft telecommunication system with ground-based radio telescopes. JUICE's instruments will enable scientists to compare each of these icy satellites and to investigate the potential for such bodies to harbor habitable environments such as subsurface oceans. They will also carry out observations of Jupiter, its atmosphere, magnetosphere, satellites and rings.

Airbus Defence and Space is developing and building the JUICE spacecraft. As prime contractor, for design, development, production, and testing of the satellite, Airbus will lead a consortium of more than 80 companies covering more than 110 contracts.

The JUICE launcher contract being signed by (left) Günther Hasinger, Director of Science Programs at ESA, and (right) Stéphane Israël,
CEO of Arianespace.

Following the contract signature, Günther Hasinger, Director of Science Programs at ESA, said JUICE is the first ‘large-class’ mission in the Cosmic Vision program and of prime importance for investigating the habitability potential of ocean-worlds beyond our own. The ESA is delighted to confirm it will have a flying start with an Ariane launch vehicle, setting it on course to fulfill its scientific goals in the Jupiter system.

Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, added that the company is honored to be awarded this new scientific mission from ESA, which will advance the understanding of the Universe. Less than a year after the launch of BepiColombo to Mercury, the company has won the launch contract for the JUICE mission to Jupiter’s moons, a further confirmation of Arianespace’s ability to ensure Europe’s independent access to space for all types of missions. Arianespace is, once again, marshaling all of the firm's strengths and capabilities to support Europe’s spaceborne ventures, with a launch services offering based on Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 so we can deliver the availability and flexibility needed by ESA for its latest emblematic mission.