Wednesday, November 17, 2004

European probe reaches lunar orbit

European space projects never had the flair of their American and Soviet counterparts. This did not stop Arianespace from becoming the world leader in commercial satellite launches, garnering about half of the global pie.

The newest European venture is an unmanned mission to the moon. Been there done that? Smart 1 is much more than that. It is the first testing of an exciting solar-electric propulsion technology, using solar energy to power an ionic drive.

Next month, on Christmas day the European Huygens probe will be released from the Cassini probe, on its way to becoming the first man-made object to land on Titan.

European efforts in space are small, unlike the big American ones. Even the successful American space efforts will be commercialized by a European.

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