Below is the launch schedule for BepiColombo, a leading Japan-Europe mission to Mercury. BepiColombo consists of two spacecraft - JAXA's MIO, the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) of the European Space Agency (ESA). Both orbiters carried aboard Ariane 5 will cooperatively accomplish comprehensive observations of Mercury. Be informed of the following Ariane 5 launch schedule officially announced by Arianespace SA and ESA.

Launch Time and Date:

22:45, local time in French Guinea, October 19, 2018
(10:45, Japan Standard Time, October 19, 2018)

Reserved Launch Period:

Through November 29, 2018


Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport in Kourou

[Reference] Mission Overview:
The International Mercury Exploration "BepiColombo" Mission and MIO

BepiColombo, an ESA-JAXA joint mission to explore Mercury, sends two spacecraft to orbit around Mercury for observations. Each is tasked with distinctive observation objects. MIO aims at elucidating the magnetic field and magnetosphere of Mercury. The MPO mission is observing the planet's surface and internal composition. JAXA is in charge of the development of the MIO spacecraft and controlling its operation at the target orbit because MIO's mission objectives lie in Japan's area of expertise. ESA controls BepiColombo launch and flight to Mercury and orbital insertions. The development and operation of the MPO is also part of the mission performed by ESA.
MIO and MPO are payload launched by the Ariane 5 spacecraft. After entering the planet's orbit, detached satellites are scheduled for approximately year-long observation mission, which both agencies will cooperatively engage in.


Computer-generated image of MIO and Mercury (c) JAXA


Image of MIO as made public to the press in 2015 (c) JAXA