Mars Express

Mars Express is a Mars exploration mission of the European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency. The spacecraft was launched on June 2, 2003, using a Soyuz-Fregat rocket. The craft successfully launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 17:45 UTC, and began its inter-planetary voyage. The use of the word "express" in this mission's name refers to the speed with which the spacecraft was designed and built rather than the speed of its voyage, which used an ordinary transfer orbit and conventional propulsion methods.

The craft consists of the Mars Express Orbiter which also carries a lander, Beagle 2, designed to perform exobiology and geochemistry research. The lander is hoped to shed light on whether Mars had once supported or possibly supports living organisms.

The orbiter entered Mars orbit on December 25, 2003, and Beagle 2 entered Mars' atmosphere the same day. Initial attempts to contact the lander failed.

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