Volga-Dnepr Airlines has operated three Antonov AN-124-100 flights from Italy to Kazakhstan carrying equipment and materials for the ExoMars space exploration programme to see if there is life on Mars.
The flights for logistics company, Bollore Logistics, departed Turin on 18, 20 and 22 December for consignor, Alenia Space Italy, for Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome via Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Loading for each flight started at 09.00h and departed Turin Airport at 15.30h for Russian consignee, FGUP TsENKI, which provides launch services for the space industry.
The cargo included the entry, descent and landing demonstration module, and the trace gas orbiter, to be launched in the first mission in March 2016. It transported 20 x 20 foot containers including two ‘hi-cube’ containers with materials for the ExoMars project launch campaign, loose cargo and a satellite container.
This is not the first time it has helped a Mars mission; in November 2011 it moved major parts of the launch vehicle for NASA’s ‘Curiosity’ rover mission to Mars.
Volga-Dnepr Airlines vice president for sales, Dennis Gliznoutsa says: “We are extremely proud once again to be the chosen air transportation partner for what could be a historic mission to Mars.”
“We are excited to be part of the project and will be closely following the results of the first mission in 2016. We wish all of the partners in ExoMars great success in their endeavours.”