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Countdown to liftoff

Like any fantastic journey, taking Ferrari to the Red Planet requires more than a little preparation. The Mars Express spacecraft, 1108 kg of metal, fuel and state-of-the-art instruments, is on course for launch in May-June 2003, and is due to arrive at the Red Planet about Christmas time.

Watch out for news of the Mars Express spacecraft as it prepares to carry out the first European mission to Mars.

1 September 2002
The spacecraft starts to undergo a gruelling series of system tests to ensure that it can withstand its journey into space. These tests will not be completed until around 15 December 2002.

18 September 2002
FRED (the special container of Ferrari red paint) is integrated on to the spacecraft at an official ceremony.

15 January 2003
The lander Beagle 2, the British-led effort to land on Mars as part of the Mars Express mission, is integrated on to Mars Express.

28 February 2003
Mars Express arrives at Baikonur, the launch pad in Kazakhstan, to prepare for its epic journey.

8 May 2003
Mars Express is ‘mated’ on to the Russian Soyuz-Fregat launcher. It’s a tricky business, but someone has got to do it.

Around 23 May 2003
Mars Express is launched on its journey to the Red Planet, accompanied by the Ferrari red paint on its most challenging trip yet.

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