April 25, 2017


ESA chose EADS/Astrium as a prime contractor for the development of the Venus Express satellite.

Artist's impression of Venus Express ; credits Esa

The satellite was based on the Mars Express spacecraft and reused most of its subsystems. The main differences were its thermal control system, which was redesigned to tolerate Venus’s much higher temperatures and greater albedo; and the solar panels, which were entirely renewed and based on high-temperature GaAs cells. The panels were also half the size of those on Mars Express (5.7 m²).

Here are the satellites’ main specifications:

Dimensions1.5 x 1.8 x 1.4 m
Payload104 kg 
Propellant550 kg 
Total1270 kg 
Solar array surface5.71 m²
Primary engine415 Newtons
Attitude control thrusters10 Newtons
Power800 W on Earth
1100 W in Venus orbit