February 9, 2009

The ESA prepares for a dual April launch

The European Space Agency says it is preparing to move its Herschel and Planck spacecraft to Europe's spaceport in Kouron, French Guiana, within two weeks.

Herschel and Planck are scheduled to be launched into space in a dual launch configuration April 16.

Herschel will study the formation of stars and galaxies and Planck is designed to investigate the relic radiation from the Big Bang, officials said.

Herschel underwent testing at the ESA's Space Research and Technology Center in Noordwijk, Netherlands, and will be flown to Kourou Wednesday. Planck, tested at the ESA facilities in Liege, Belgium, is to be transported to Kouron on Feb. 18.