SUMMARY: Europe is ready to begin this summer's invasion of Mars with the launch of its Mars Express spacecraft, due to lift off on June 2. The spacecraft is currently packed safely away on top a Soyuz-Fregat rocket at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. If all goes well, the rocket will lift off at 1745 GMT and then deploy Mars Express 90 minutes later. The first critical hurdle for the mission will be three days after launch when the spacecraft needs to release the launch clamps holding the Beagle-2 lander so that it can be deployed in December when they reach Mars.
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