Gaia launch postponement update

Oct 24, 2013
Gaia mapping the stars of the milky way. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab; background: ESO/S. Brunier

Yesterday, the decision was taken to postpone the launch of ESA's Gaia mission after a technical issue was identified in another satellite already in orbit.

Gaia shares some of the components involved in this technical issue and prompt notification of this problem has allowed engineers working on the final preparations for Gaia's launch to take additional precautionary measures.

The issue concerns components used in two transponders on Gaia that generate 'timing signals' for downlinking the science telemetry. To avoid potential problems, they will be replaced.

The transponders will be removed from Gaia at Kourou and returned to Europe, where the potentially faulty components will be replaced and verified. After the replacements have been made, the transponders will be refitted to Gaia and a final verification test made.

As a consequence of these precautionary measures, it will not be possible to launch Gaia within the window that includes the previously targeted launch date of 20 November.

The next available launch window is 17 December to 5 January 2014.

More details will be given as soon as they are available. The new will be announced when the timeline for completing the additional work has been confirmed and the overall manifest of Arianespace has been established. 

Gaia is ESA's billion-star surveyor, designed to provide a precise 3D map of our Milky Way galaxy in order to understand its composition, formation and evolution.

Explore further: Countdown to launch of ESA's billion-star surveyor Gaia

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Unfolding Gaia

Jun 25, 2013

(Phys.org) —Gaia, ESA's billion-star surveyor, will be launched into space towards the end of this year. In the meantime, ESA Space Science has launched a new 'minisite' focused on the Gaia mission.

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way

Jun 28, 2013

ESA's billion-star surveyor, Gaia, has completed final preparations in Europe and is ready to depart for its launch site in French Guiana, set to embark on a five-year mission to map the stars with unprecedented ...

Gaia spreads its wings

Dec 08, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- ESA’s Gaia star-mapper has passed a critical test ahead of its launch in 2013: the spacecraft’s sunshield has been deployed for the first time.

Recommended for you

Europe sat-nav launch glitch linked to frozen pipe

8 hours ago

A frozen fuel pipe in the upper stage of a Soyuz launcher likely caused the failure last month to place two European navigation satellites in orbit, a source close to the inquiry said Wednesday.

Cyanide ice in Titan's atmosphere

9 hours ago

Gigantic polar clouds of hydrogen cyanide roughly four times the area of the UK are part of the impressive atmospheric diversity of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, a new study led by Leiden Observatory, ...

Video: Alleged meteor caught on Russian dash cam (again)

13 hours ago

Thanks to the ubiquity of dashboard-mounted video cameras in Russia yet another bright object has been spotted lighting up the sky over Siberia, this time a "meteor-like object" seen on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 27.

User comments : 0