Monday 2 June the space probe "Mars Express" was launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. The launch was successful, and four anxious employees at Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace took part in the live broadcast of the launch at the Norwegian Space Centre.
"Taking part in the live broadcast was of course exciting", says Jon Kvistedal at KDA. "Even if the equipment has gone through extensive testing and you know it will work, the last few seconds of the countdown are really nerve racking", he explains.
The purpose of the "Mars Express" is to find life or traces of life on the planet Mars. The space probe is carrying a small Mars lander, the "Beagle 2", which will land on Mars Christmas Day. "Beagle 2" carries small, advanced, scientific instruments and will, among other things, search for traces of water on the planet. "Mars Express" will orbit Mars for a year.
KDA has delivered the mechanisms angling the two solar panels towards the sun. "This is the first time we have developed a mechanism that's being sent out into space", says Kvistedal. "The mechanism will control the solar panels that provide power to important instruments on board. Our equipment plays an important role on board "Mars Express", he says.