Animation showing Gaia launch and journey to its operating orbit. The animation begins by visualising the launch from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on a Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT vehicle. The rocket's four boosters are jettisoned 118 seconds after launch, and the spacecraft fairing is jettisoned after 220 seconds. Following two burns, the Fregat upper stage separates from Gaia 42 minutes after launch. The separation activates an automatic sequence onboard Gaia, including switching on the spacecraft's transmitters, pressurisation of the propulsion system, initial attitude acquisition and deployment of the sunshield. By then Gaia will be on its transfer orbit from Earth towards L2, a virtual point in space some 1.5 million kilometres 'behind' Earth as seen from the Sun. Credit: Youtube/Space and Astronautics News
Video: How the ESA's Gaia satellite will launch into orbit
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