News Sci/Tech ESA BepiColombo Glitch: Restoring Spacecraft Thrust

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Glitch on BepiColombo: Work Ongoing to Restore Spacecraft to Full Thrust

BepiColombo, the joint ESA/JAXA mission to Mercury, has encountered an issue affecting its thrusters' full power operation.

The BepiColombo Mission

BepiColombo consists of two scientific probes and the Mercury Transfer Module. These components separate during Mercury orbit insertion operations.

The Thruster Issue

On April 26, during a scheduled manoeuvre, the Transfer Module failed to provide sufficient electrical power to BepiColombo's thrusters. A combined team from ESA and mission partners restored thrust to approximately 90% of its previous level by May 7. However, full thrust remains elusive due to insufficient available power.

Current Priorities

The team aims to maintain stable propulsion at the current power level while investigating the root cause of the issue. Additional ground station passes are arranged for close monitoring.

Upcoming Milestones

If the current power level is sustained, BepiColombo should reach Mercury for its fourth gravity assist in September. Final orbit insertion is scheduled for December 2025, followed by routine science operations in Spring 2026.

Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.

ESA / Enabling & Support / Operations

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