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Lift off: Solar Orbiter on its way to the Sun

The Solar Orbiter – which aims to unlock the secrets of the Sun – is on its way to the star. Built by Airbus in Stevenage, it lifted off into space in the Atlas V 411 rocket from Nasa’s Cape Canaveral site in Florida just after 4am UK time. There were hugs of congratulations and relief at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Space Operations Centre at the successful launch. While in Florida, Gunther Hasinger, ESA’s director of science, and Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate, gave a thumbs up, declaring: “We have a mission.”

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