This timelapse video shows the preparations for the launch of ESA’s Cheops, the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The video spans about three weeks, starting on 28 November 2019 and ending on 18 December with the liftoff.
Over this period, the fully integrated and fuelled spacecraft was fitted inside the flight adapter of the Soyuz-Fregat rocket, encapsulated within the half-shells of the transport module, transferred to the final integration building, and installed on top of the Fregat upper stage of the Soyuz launcher. The upper composite, enveloped by the rocket fairing and comprises the Fregat and all passengers – the ASI Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation satellite, Cheops, and three CubeSats: ESA’s OPS-SAT and CNES's EYE-SAT and ANGELS satellites – was eventually transferred to the launch pad area and hoisted on top of the three-stage rocket ahead of liftoff.
Cheops is ESA’s first mission dedicated to the study of extrasolar planets, or exoplanets. It will observe bright stars that are already known to host planets, measuring minuscule brightness changes due to the planet’s transit across the star’s disc.