Photos: Gaia Spacecraft to Map Milky Way Galaxy

Soyuz Launch Vehicle Prepared for Gaia Spacecraft

ESA

Three Soyuz stages are seen in the integration center MIK. The 3rd stage is in the foreground. The 1st and the 2nd stages are already integrated in the background. The 1st stage is identified by the four lateral conical boosters.

Gaia Flight Model During Tests

ESA/S. Corvaja

Gaia spacecraft flight model is seen during mass, CoG (Centre of Gravity) and inertia measurements at Intespace, Toulouse, France, March 13, 2013.

ESA

Gaia's payload fairing was designed by Joël Schopfer. It depicts a girl reaching for the Milky Way, with the Gaia spacecraft. The ESA logo is also included.

Europe's Gaia Space Observatory

ESA

An artist's illustration of ESA's Gaia space observatory in orbit.

Gaia Star-Mapper Lowered Atop Fregat

ESA-CNES-Arianespace / Optique Vidéo du CSG - P. Baudon

This image shows the Gaia star-mapper as it is lowered into position atop the Fregat upper stage for Soyuz. A global space astrometry mission, Gaia will make the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our galaxy by surveying more than a thousand million stars. Gaia is scheduled for launch on Dec. 19, 2013. This image was released Dec. 13, 2013.

Preparing Gaia's Launch Vehicle

ESA-CNES-Arianespace / Optique Vidéo du CSG - P. Baudon

Pictured here is the Soyuz launch vehicle's Block I third stage being mated to the launcher in the MIK integration building. This building is equipped with two traveling cranes for handling launcher segments, along with a rail system for the movement and integration of the stages. Once the integrated launcher has been checked it will be transferred to the launch pad where the Gaia satellite and the Fregat upper stage will be installed. This image was released Dec. 13, 2013.

Gaia in Fairing

ESA-CNES-Arianespace / Optique Vidéo du CSG - G. Barbaste

The Gaia spacecraft is positioned inside the Soyuz fairing, in preparation for the Dec. 19 2013 launch. The spacecraft was attached to the vehicle adapter before being installed in the fairing. This image was released Dec. 13, 2013.

Ariane 6 Artist’s Concept

ESA–D. Ducros, 2013

This image is an artist's concept of Ariane 6. The image was released Dec. 15, 2013.

Soyuz VS06 Transfer to Launch Zone

ESA–M. Pedoussaut

Soyuz VS06 was transferred to the launch zone on Dec. 14, 2013. The vehicle was rolled out horizontally on its erector from the preparation building to the launch zone and then raised into the vertical position. The image was released Dec. 15, 2013.

Soyuz Transferred to Launch Zone

ESA–M. Pedoussaut

Soyuz VS06 was rolled out horizontally on its erector from the preparation building to the launch zone and then raised into the vertical position on Dec. 14, 2013. The image was released Dec. 15, 2013.

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