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AlexBlackwell
Excerpt from a News article by Jenny Hogan in the December 1, 2005, issue of Nature:

"The [funding] situation has led to speculation that BepiColombo, a mission destined for a 2013 launch to Mercury, might be cancelled. 'That is the big danger painted in the sky,' says Karl-Heinz Glassmeier, principal investigator on one of the instruments proposed for the spacecraft.

"Nerves were set jangling about the project, which also involves the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, after it was postponed because the initial design was too heavy. That problem seems to have been solved, but officials say the estimated cost of the mission, at 600 million [euros] to 650 million [euros], is still more than 100 million [euros] above target."

Reference:

Europe's cash crisis puts space plans under threat
Jenny Hogan
Nature 438, 542-543 (2005)
doi:10.1038/438542a
Full Text
BruceMoomaw
B.C. seems to be out of danger for the moment. http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051205/full/051205-7.html :

"The budget decisions boost ESA's science programme, which will get the full 2.1 billion it requested. This translates to a budget that will go up by 2.5% a year over the next five years. And it is enough to allay fears that flagship missions would be cancelled in the face of budget shortfalls (see 'Europe's cash crisis puts space plans under threat')."

Also: "ExoMars secured more money than was asked for: the mission might now be enhanced by adding more instruments or a companion orbiter."
Mariner9
Well I sure hope so. BepiColombo is the European equivalent to the Europa Orbiter and the Pluto mission. Endlessly studied, redefined, redesigned, rescoped and so on over the last ten years. I think it was originally proposed in 1994 or there abouts.

Over the last few years I watched as the launch date went from 2009 to 2011 to 2012 .... I've lost track where it is at this point.
peter59
Don't be astonished. It's typical for ESA - European Co(s)mic Agency
BruceMoomaw
The Dec. 5 Aviation Week (published prior to the cavalry coming at least temporarily to the rescue) reports that the two ESA science missions in the most danger are BepiColombo and Solar Orbiter, simply because their overruns are biggest -- BC is 150 million Euros over budget and its launch has slipped two years to 2013. (Solar Orbiter is now set for 2014.)

GAIA is in less danger; it's only 40 million Euros over budget (mere chicken feed) and its launch date has in fact advanced to 2011.

"Aggravating the shortfall is the agency's current risk-averse approach that saves money up front -- major missions are now expected to cost just 450 million Euros, half the cost of previous ones -- but tends to add costs later, when it's more difficult to turn things around, according to [David] Southwood. A case in point is Herschel-Planck, to be launched in late 2007, which is suffering from a 180 million Euro overrun...

"[Southwood] insisted that solutions could yet be found to prevent the ax from falling. For example, Russia is negotiating to launch BepiColombo on a Soyuz booster if the mission can be modified to include a Russian lander. Although ESA is loath to make such a change at this stage of the project, the agency might be willing to do so if the solution is a 'win-win one,' says Southwood."
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Dec 12 2005, 09:25 PM)
B.C. seems to be out of danger for the moment.  http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051205/full/051205-7.html

I've delayed replying because I've been hearing through the grapevine that BepiColombo may still be at risk, notwithstanding the recently announced 2.5% increase over the next five years to ESA's Science Programme. BepiColombo's cost overruns, even with the de-scope in dropping the MSE lander and the delay in launch date, remain troubling.

And Daniel Clery's news article ("ESA Hits the Right Note, and Funding Flows") in the December 16, 2005, issue of Science hints that BepiColombo may not be out of the woods yet:

"Cost overruns in several missions over the past few years have put the science program under severe pressure. It forced the cancellation of the Eddington planet-hunting mission in 2003 (Science, 14 November 2003, p. 1130) and put the BepiColombo mission to Mercury under threat. The program 'was facing a major crisis,' says space scientist Mark Sims of the University of Leicester, U.K. Last week's reversal 'makes many difficulties go away but not all of them,' he adds. Southwood says the program will host a meeting of researchers in January to plan future priorities; in February, ESA's Science Program Committee will meet to decide which of four missions on the program's roster--Solar Orbiter, BepiColombo, the Gaia star-mapper, and LISA, a gravitational-wave interferometer--will get the go-ahead."
BruceMoomaw
That Aviation Week article adds that LISA is also on somewhat better footing than BepiColombo and Solar Orbiter.
AlexBlackwell
From the January 30, 2006, issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology (World News & Analysis):

ESA Poised to Approve Planet-Finding, Mercury Missions
Aviation Week & Space Technology
01/30/2006, page 35

Michael A. Taverna
Paris

"European Space Agency planners say they may not have to scrub or pare back a major planned science mission.

[...]

"According to [Henk] Olthof [head of science programs], the two missions most under threat, the Gaia star-mapping probe and BepiColombo Mercury flight, are both expected to receive a green light at the next science program board on Feb. 8-9. Gaia, intended for launch in 2011, has already gone through tender evaluation, and managers will propose at an industry policy committee meeting this week that the mission be awarded to EADS Astrium. Planners are still trying to figure out how to fit in BepiColombo, targeted for a 2013 launch. But they expect to be in a position to tender it later this year, and to select a supplier in the third or fourth quarter.

"Olthof says the agency has heeded lessons from previous large missions, which suffered big overruns due to unrealistic funding. The budget envelope will be 550 million euros ($673 million) for Gaia and 650 million euros for BepiColombo--versus 450 million euros previously allocated to large missions."
The Messenger
QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Dec 15 2005, 09:36 PM)
That Aviation Week article adds that LISA is also on somewhat better footing than BepiColombo and Solar Orbiter.
*

Should LISA still be funded, if the current (S5) LIGO run continues to roll snake eyes? If we are certain we can achieve a couple of orders of magnitude of higher resolution I would say yes, but it seems to me that this would be a daunting challenge, in space.
jamescanvin
QUOTE (The Messenger @ Jan 31 2006, 05:54 AM)
Should LISA still be funded, if the current (S5) LIGO run continues to roll snake eyes? If we are certain we can achieve a couple of orders of magnitude of higher resolution I would say yes, but it seems to me that this would be a daunting challenge, in space.
*


Deja vu! - We've already had this conversation! tongue.gif wink.gif

From this thread

QUOTE (The Messenger @ Sep 6 2005, 03:28 AM)
One more question about LISA - unless and until the current LIGO generation of gravity antenna detect ANY gravitational phenomena, should we be vesting in another experiment? IAOTO the waves do exist, but we may be searching with the wrong kind of antenna.



QUOTE (jamescanvin @ Sep 6 2005, 11:17 AM)
Well LISA will be serching in a completely different frequency band. A band which should include waves from binary neutron stars which pretty much must exists given current observations (and at a known amplitude), unlike LIGO which can only detect much more exotic and theoretical objects and mergers. So yes I do think it's worth investing in, even given the non-detections at LIGO.



QUOTE (The Messenger @ Sep 6 2005, 04:53 PM)
Damn! I'll say we need LISA, yesterday, not too many years from now. Any chance of  bumping LISA ahead of PLANCK? The CMB has a local contamination issue that needs to be resolved to reathenticate, if possible, the accuracy of the WMAP results. 

But A drag-free triangulated laser ranged probe orbiting the Sun will also provide constraints upon Pioneer-like acceleration anomalies if they effect lasar ranging.
*
ljk4-1
MERCURY RISING

- The SIXS Instrument By Finnish Astronomers Goes To Mercury

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/The_SIXS...To_Mercury.html

Helsinki, Finland (ESA) Feb 16, 2006 - The European Space Agency (ESA) is
launching a mission to Mercury, in which there is significant Finnish involvement.

On Thursday 9 February 2006, the Science Programme Committee of the ESA
held a meeting to approve the agency's next cornerstone programme, the
spacecraft named BepiColombo, which is due to be launched towards Mercury
in 2013.
Mariner9
The article at Spacedaily states that the spacecraft is launched in 2013, and the primary data return is 2018-2020.

This makes it a roughly 5 year trip to Mercury orbit. The last time I read a mission overview the timeline was only about 3 years to Mercury orbit, a quick flight made possible by the inclusion of a solar powered ion propulsion unit on the spacecraft. Presumably this extra delta-v allowed them to avoid the MESSENGER method of multiple Venus and Mercury flybys.

What happened? Is the ion drive unit dropped from the mission?
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (Mariner9 @ Feb 17 2006, 05:32 PM) *
The article at Spacedaily states that the spacecraft is launched in 2013, and the primary data return is 2018-2020.

This makes it a roughly 5 year trip to Mercury orbit. The last time I read a mission overview the timeline was only about 3 years to Mercury orbit, a quick flight made possible by the inclusion of a solar powered ion propulsion unit on the spacecraft. Presumably this extra delta-v allowed them to avoid the MESSENGER method of multiple Venus and Mercury flybys.

What happened? Is the ion drive unit dropped from the mission?

The mission design has changed over the past few years as the payload (MSE dropped) and launch vehicle (Soyuz-Fregat vs. Ariane 5) were decided. Check the BepiColombo fact sheet for a few details. In short, ion propulsion is still baselined for the cruise phase; however, gravity assists from Earth, Venus, and Mercury are planned. Sound familiar? In fact, I think there was once (and still may be) an option for a lunar gravity assist with Soyuz-Fregat in addition to the others.
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Feb 17 2006, 05:41 PM) *
The mission design has changed over the past few years as the payload (MSE dropped) and launch vehicle (Soyuz-Fregat vs. Ariane 5) were decided. Check the BepiColombo fact sheet for a few details. In short, ion propulsion is still baselined for the cruise phase; however, gravity assists from Earth, Venus, and Mercury are planned. Sound familiar? In fact, I think there was once (and still may be) an option for a lunar gravity assist with Soyuz-Fregat in addition to the others.

Here's an updated status report, which is to be presented at the EGU General Assembly 2006.
AlexBlackwell
A couple of tidbits from, respectively, the February 5, 2007, and February 12, 2007, issues of Aviation Week & Space Technology:

QUOTE
News Breaks
Europe
The European Space Agency
Aviation Week & Space Technology
02/05/2007, page 17

The European Space Agency will split a €329-million ($424.4-million) prime contract for Bepi Colombo Mercury mission, the agency's next major science project, between Astrium and Alcatel Alenia Space. Astrium Germany will be overall prime contractor, with Astrium U.K. and Alcatel Alenia Italy as co-primes, says Jacques Louet, ESA's director of science projects. But Astrium Germany will shoulder the full program risk under a "political expedient" approved last week by ESA's industrial policy committee. The green light for the €665-million mission is to be given by ESA's science program board later this month, along with a call for ideas for the next round of science missions planned for 2015-25. Three large (€650-million) and three medium (€300-million) missions are expected to be proposed for the tender, expected to be realized in October. The first, a medium mission, would be launched around 2017. To ensure approval, Louet said, science planners will propose €200 million in cuts through 2015. The bulk of the savings--€110 million--will come by offering to merge ESA's Solar Orbiter mission with NASA's four-satellite Sentinel project, eliminating one Sentinel and carrying the four remaining units aloft on the same launcher, with shared instrument packages.

Excerpt from

QUOTE
ESA Plans for New Science Missions Facing Renewed Budget Turmoil
Aviation Week & Space Technology
02/12/2007, page 33

Michael A. Taverna
Cannes
Douglas Barrie
London

A European Space Agency plan to draw up a slate of new missions for its Cosmic Vision science program is facing renewed turmoil over budgets.

[...]

These hiccups threaten to overshadow the go-ahead for the BepiColombo Mercury mission, approved late last month (AW&ST Feb. 5, p. 17). The continuing difficulties with the science program have prompted an external review, due to be completed by mid-year. The outcome is likely to shape, and possibly recast, the Cosmic Vision initiative, kicked off in 2002 to overcome organizational and budget shortcomings with the previous Horizons/Horizons-Plus program (AW&ST June 3, 2002, p. 33). One thing is already clear, officials say: Under the second phase of Cosmic Vision, the rate of new mission launches will be pushed back to one every 18 months, compared with one every 12 months under the current setup.


EDIT: Since the BepiColombo has the green light, I changed the thread title.
Rakhir
ESA gives go-ahead to build BepiColombo

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMC8XBE8YE_index_0.html

BepiColombo has been definitively 'adopted' by the Agency’s Science Programme Committee (SPC) last Friday.
ustrax
Onward to Mercury!
Some details about the mission and a timetable untill the launch.
AlexBlackwell
I forgot to mention this at the time, but below is little tidbit from In Orbit section of the April 2, 2007, issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology:
QUOTE
Russia has agreed to provide a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer for the European Space Agency's BepiColombo Mercury probe, to be built by EADS Astrium and launched in 2013...
ustrax
Cool!... smile.gif
stevesliva
Very interesting! I didn't realize that they'd proposed shedding the cruise stage and using free capture to drop into Mercury orbit.
nprev
Yes...an ingenious mission profile to be sure. No lander anymore, though...? sad.gif
djellison
Was there ever one planned...I don't remember there ever being one as part of BC - certainly not at any point after it got approved.

Doug
mchan
There was a small (Beagle-sized) lander proposed. It would have operated for a short time. The thermal protection required would have been interesting. I think you are right about it being dropped before the project was approved.
centsworth_II
QUOTE (mchan @ Oct 19 2007, 05:19 AM) *
The thermal protection required would have been interesting.


The landing method would have been interesting.
K-P
Any plans of using for example MMO -probe as a crash-lander at the end of primary mission to get some extra data from the surface, while MPO would do the imaging a'la Deep Impact? Or in case of MMO missing the necessary engines/thrust doing it vice versa? And is it so, that on those orbits around Mercury (just like Messenger), without any intervention, these probes' orbits don't decay in a traditional sense but they will get longer and higher until Sun's gravity pulls them on a heliocentric orbit...? And what would be the limit/distance for Mercury to keep a probe on a stable orbit around it?
tasp
IIRC, tendency of solar perturbations on an initially circular orbit about Mercury is to 'pump up' the eccentricity of the orbit. Seems like you contact the surface prior to achieving escape. Handy if you want to contact the surface, not so handy if you want to escape.


{It's been nearly 30 years since the astro class where I heard this, if my recollection has deteriorated over the decades, probably no big surprise}
mhall
It seems that the contract is now signed!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7195374.stm
mgrodzki
for those of us too lazy to do the research… what will be the major difference between messenger’s objectives at mercury and bepi-columbo’s? i would have to assume that NASA and ESA have coordinated their efforts here. i was a little shocked to discover there will be 2 missions to a planet not explored for 33 years. i would almost say its a bit overkill considering the other meaty targets in the solar system like titan, europa, enceladus… io… etc.

is it just cheaper/easier to get to mercury than any of the above?
dvandorn
As far as I know, the people designing Bepi-Columbo are not working in concert with the Messenger team in any way. And B-C has a rather checkered history in the first place, it's launch date has been pushed back several times and its mission rescoped even more times.

B-C is one of those projects that I will believe when I see it actually built, launched and working. And not until then. As far as I'm concerned, it makes little sense to worry about whether or not it's a complementary mission to Messenger until the odds of it actually flying improve beyond "maybe someday"... *sigh*...

Besides, unlike the results from Messenger, only three people in the world will ever see more than three or four images from B-C even if it does fly, so I don't know why anyone would be worried about it in the first place.

-the other Doug
mgrodzki
i know there have been issues with BC, but i was under the impression that it was a done deal. ESA has it listed as a mission to be expected… is it possible they might just use it to target another body? seems hard to believe that anyone would spend all that money and energy to do a repeat mission of one that will have just been executed successfully by messenger.

personally, i’d rather they even just launch bepi-columbo and crash land it into europa, enceladus or io than another orbital mission to mercury. wouldn’t that be a thrill to see io that up-close?
ugordan
BepiColombo will not be able to go to the outer solar system, even if it turns out to be easier energy-wise because it will rely on solar electric propulsion. Go further out from the Sun and the available power rapidly decreases. You can't just send a spacecraft built for Mercury around the solar system like that, there are operating environment issues (thermal control, radiation), instrument suite optimizations etc.
djellison
Was anyone bugged when Mars Odyssey went after MGS, MEX after Odyssey and MRO after MEX?

At the very lowest level, two streams of data coming back from Mercury are better than one. More insightfully, BC will be doing some overlap science, some new science - and will be observing at a higher resolution.

Doug
JRehling
The Galileans are much more challenging targets than Mercury for sustained orbital operations. They have tiny Hill Spheres, so you need to put the orbiter into a low orbit or Jupiter will steal the craft away at apoapsis. And shielding against the massive radiation is an even bigger problem.

It would be easier to fly by the Galileans than Mercury, but orbiting them (Io and Europa, at least) is harder.
mgrodzki
i would assume that mission managers have their reasons… just always wonder about these things. but i am still shocked that there would be little coordination between bepicolumbo and messenger. just having one orbiter at mercury would make me want to save that money and earmark it for a wholly new mission elsewhere. assuming much of the craft is already assembled, perhaps it is not suited for any other kind of mission other than inner system – which has few targets.
djellison
QUOTE (mgrodzki @ Jan 20 2008, 02:38 PM) *
but i am still shocked that there would be little coordination between bepicolumbo and messenger.


What gives you that idea?

Doug
Mariner9
I see your point about wanting there to be a balance on missions, and not focus too much on one spot when so many tempting targets stand waiting.

But given that there have been only 2 missions to Mercury so far, I'm not that bothered by the idea of Bepi Columbo heading there a full decade after Messenger. In fact, I rather like the idea that some targets get a series of missions so that our knowledge about them slowly expands rather than jump up dramatically, then just come to a halt for decades. (such as happened with the Mars Viking missions)

Besides.... better another two orbiters at Mercury (Bepi-Columbo has two orbiters) than yet another Moon mission. I understand that countries like China and India are getting their space legs and gathering experience by doing the lunar missions, but personally I just don't do handsprings of excitement over the idea that we will have 4 lunar orbiters launched over a 2 year period.
Phil Stooke
Well, the different missions carry different instruments - the lunar ones you mention, and the mercury missions. It's not all duplication.

Phil
ugordan
If you ask me this has become rather absurd. Look at us, we actually have people complaining we have too many missions at one planet!

Seriously, guys!

The more, the merrier.
GravityWaves
QUOTE (centsworth_II @ Oct 19 2007, 11:42 AM) *
The landing method would have been interesting.


why did they scrap the lander, no money ?
mps
Money was at least one important issue. Not only development and building costs, but also the cost of another Soyuz launch vehicle.
ustrax
QUOTE
for those of us too lazy to do the research… what will be the major difference between messenger’s objectives at mercury and bepi-columbo’s?


Aren't you watching spacEuropeTV?! blink.gif tongue.gif
There are four main aspects about BC enhanced by the Project Scientist: SIXS, MERTIS, ISA+MORE and, of course...JAXA's MMO...

QUOTE (djellison @ Jan 20 2008, 02:41 PM) *
What gives you that idea?


Doug, besides some data exchange, and what BC can learn from MESSENGER, on the technical side there will be no cooperation between the two missions.
mps
Ustrax, spaceEurope says that MESSENGER's coverage of Mercury is 25%, but BepiColombo's is global. What does it exactly mean?
ustrax
QUOTE (mps @ Jan 21 2008, 01:21 PM) *
Ustrax, spaceEurope says that MESSENGER's coverage of Mercury is 25%, but BepiColombo's is global. What does it exactly mean?


I believe that the percentages are related with the fact of BC having the power to obtain a larger set of datait by being equiped with a better arsenal of instruments than MESSENGER. At the end of both missions, the data acquired could be converted into this numbers...
Greg Hullender
So you think it's just a translation issue? They mean BC will only have a 25% overlap with Messenger -- in terms of data, not km^2. That would both make sense and be good to hear. :-)

--Greg
ustrax
QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Jan 21 2008, 02:31 PM) *
So you think it's just a translation issue? They mean BC will only have a 25% overlap with Messenger -- in terms of data, not km^2. That would both make sense and be good to hear. :-)

--Greg


Yes, that was the impression I had, that the numbers are referring to data and not area, by what I know MESSENGER will cover much more than 25% of Mercury's surface...if that is not clear in the video sorry for not being clear enough.
PaulM
A story of interest to UK members of UMSF.COM has been posted today on the BBC web site.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7274956.stm

Physicists and astronomers have three weeks to make the case for a number of high-profile projects at risk of being cut from the UK's science portfolio.

The lists of facilities and experiments include spacecraft, telescopes and hardware for particle accelerators.

The scientific worth of each is being assessed as administrators seek to plug an £80m hole in their finances.
...
"High priorities" such as Venus Express and the gravity wave detector GEO 600 are likely to be safe from cuts.
...
An instrument for the Mercury probe Bepi-Columbo also appeared as a lower priority. But a deal signed with the European Space Agency (Esa) meant there was "no credible option for withdrawal".

Can anyone provide me with a link to a more complete version of this story?

I have a personal interest in the ExoMars rover and would like to know whether the UK contribution to this project has been cut?

vjkane
BEPICOLOMBO NARROWLY AVOIDS CANCELLATION

By PETER B. de SELDING
Space News Staff Writer

PARIS — Europe's BepiColombo mission to Mercury has narrowly escaped what would have been a precedent-setting cancellation.


The satellite's mass has grown to the point that it no longer is capable of being launched by a medium-lift rocket, according to European government officials. The unexpected weight gain led to development delays and also forced a shift in plans that will require the use of a heavy-lift Ariane 5 vehicle.


The combination of the delay and the shift to a more expensive launcher will add 120 million euros ($189 million) to the mission's budget, the European government officials said.


Complete article at: http://www.space.com/spacenews/spacenews_summary.html#BM_5
peter59
Interesting quotes:

"A majority of the members of Europe's Science Program Committee (SPC), which oversees the space-science program based on budget guidelines at the European Space Agency (ESA), voted to cancel BepiColombo in June despite the fact that industrial contracts have been signed and considerable money already spent."

"It's certain that, had we known in 2006 what we know now, we never would have agreed to start BepiColombo."

"Southwood said he would reopen contract negotiations with Astrium Satellites with a view to reducing the price."

Why I am not astonished ? I think, it's beginning of end for BepiColombo.

Mariner9
Tough to predict. Bepi-Colombo's roots go way back into the mid-90s , and it also has JAXA as an international partner building an entirely separate orbiter from the ESA planetary orbiter. I think one of the things that saved Cassini from cancellation in the early 90s was the Huygens probe being built by ESA. NASA was reluctant to back out of the project with the commitment they had made to ESA.

So it seems that there are many factors influencing this decision.

One of the things not mentioned in the article was the Exo-Mars mission, also slated for a 2013 launch window. I've wondered for a long time if having two big ticket planetary missions with the same schedule would pose a problem on budgets. And like Bepi-Colombo, the Exo-Mars budget has gone up a few times. IIRC the cost estimate on that one started around 600 million Euros, and has gone up around 1 Billion in the last six months.

However, the way ESA gets money is more complex than the NASA model. I get the impression that each project is funded by separate contributions from each contributing partner nation. So it may be that Bepi-Colombo and Exo-Mars will never compete with each other for funds, at least not directly.
vjkane
QUOTE (Mariner9 @ Jul 6 2008, 06:44 AM) *
However, the way ESA gets money is more complex than the NASA model. I get the impression that each project is funded by separate contributions from each contributing partner nation. So it may be that Bepi-Colombo and Exo-Mars will never compete with each other for funds, at least not directly.

I suspect that the experience of cost over runs on both ExoMars and Bepi-Colombo will make ESA more cautious in scoping and selecting future planetary missions. Problems once development is underway is fairly common for all space agencies, it seems. If memory serves me correctly though, both of these experienced large cost increases fairly early in the process. Anyone have a better memory than I?
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