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N° 42–2013: Call for Media: ESA’s Galaxy-mapping Gaia ready for launch

12 December 2013

The European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite is ready for launch on 19 December at 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET). The launch will be covered live from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana for broadcasters and on the web, and can be followed at local events in Europe.

The launch will be on a Soyuz vehicle, operated by Arianespace. Launch success is expected to be declared around an hour and a half after launch, after the deployment of Gaia’s sunshield.


ESA’s Portal will cover the launch live on, providing the videostream and updates of the launch.


In cooperation with Arianespace, ESA TV provides broadcasters with live satellite relay or live videostream of the launch. Details at:

Several stories are also available explaining Gaia, the mission and the technology. Find them at:
or at:

ESA Launch events open to media

Event at ESA’s Space Operations Centre

The main ESA launch event will take place in Gaia’s mission control centre at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.  

Doors open at 08:00 CET, followed by an event programme that includes leading European astronomy experts, industry representatives, as well as ESA managers explaining the science and the flight operations of the Gaia mission.

For accreditation, media can register at:

For more information or interviews requests around the launch event at ESOC:

Robert Bosch Strasse 5, Darmstadt, Germany

Tel: +49 6151 902516


Any last-minute change in the Gaia launch date will be announced in a recorded message at +49 6151 90 2609, on our ESA website or on Twitter @esaoperations

For information on how to get to ESOC:

Events at ESA’s Space Astronomy Centre

At ESA’s European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) near Madrid, Spain, media can join a Gaia information day on Tuesday, 17 December. The information day focuses on the science and the Spanish contribution to the mission and is organised in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Industry and CDTI. The event starts at 11:00 CET and is held in Spanish.

Media are also invited to come to ESAC for the launch on 19 December. Doors open at 09:00. The event will be held in English.

More information and contact information for the events at ESAC:

For information on how to get to ESAC:

Tel: +34 91 813 13 59


Event at ESA’s Space Research and Technology Centre

At ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, a joint launch event with NSO, TNO and Nova will be held at Space Expo.

How to get to Space Expo:

For more information on the launch event:!/gaia 

ESTEC Communications Office

Tel: +31 71 565 3006


Still images

The latest high-resolution still images of Gaia can be found at:

-  Multi-Media Gallery:

-  ESA's Photo Library for Professionals:

Media image queries can be directed to

About Gaia

ESA’s Gaia mission will create the most precise 3D map of our Milky Way by measuring a billion stars in it.

Gaia will be launched on a Soyuz rocket from Europea’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It features the largest CCD focal plane, with 106 CCDs totalling almost a billion pixels, making it the largest digital camera ever used in space.

With Gaia’s unprecedented 3D map at hand, we will improve our understanding of how our Galaxy evolved, how it came into being and why it is the way it is. Scientists also expect to discover thousands of planets beyond our Solar System, tens of thousands of failed stars and 20 000 exploding stars.

ESOC in Germany will operate the satellite and ESAC in Spain will prioritise the science. DPAC, a consortium of more than 400 scientists, will analyse the flood of a million gigabytes of data that Gaia will produce during its five-year life.

The spacecraft was designed and built by Astrium, with a core team of Astrium France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Learn more at:

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. It is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with eight other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more at

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office


Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99