Mars Express Positioned for Beagle 2 Deployment

Ground controllers of Europe’s Mars Express satellite on Dec. 16 successfully completed a precision-pointing maneuver to prepare the satellite for a planned Dec. 19 ejection of its small Beagle-2 lander, the mission’s flight director said. Michael McKay, flight operations director at the European Space Agency’s Esoc space operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, said Mars Express was rotated and its engines briefly fired to increase the satellite’s speed as it approaches Mars as part of the maneuver.