EADS Astrium was prime contractor to ESA for the design and development of Venus Express, the first European spacecraft to visit the planet Venus. Venus Express was launched on a Soyuz/Fregat rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in November 2005. After a five-month journey, it arrived at its destination orbit around Venus in April 2006. The mission around Venus was designed to last two Venusian days (486 Earth days) - due to the planet’s slow rotation, a day at Venus is in fact longer than a year. This successful mission has been granted an extension until 31 December 2012, subject to a mid-term review in 2010.
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