Rosetta - nine seconds before launch
Science & Exploration

Up, up and away - Rosetta's launch in pictures

02/03/2004 914 views 0 likes
ESA / Science & Exploration / Space Science / Rosetta

An Ariane 5 launched ESA's Rosetta mission this morning from Europe's Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.

Europe's unique Rosetta comet-intercept spacecraft took off on its first step of an 11-year mission. Rosetta was on board an Ariane 5 launcher as Flight 158.

Rosetta liftoff
Rosetta liftoff

The final countdown had started at 20:47 CET yesterday, 1 March. This morning at 00:47 CET, a final check of electrical systems was made and at 03:27, came the start of the filling of the main cryogenic stage with liquid oxygen and hydrogen.

At 03:57, the chilldown of Vulcain main stage engine took place and three hours later, final checks of the connections between the launcher, tracking and command systems were made.

At 08:10, Arianespace confirmed an "All systems go" and start of the synchronised sequence.


Flight 158's Vulcain main cryogenic engine ignited at 44 seconds past 04:17 local time in French Guiana (08:17 CET) - the first of two precise launch instances that were set for today's mission. This very specific timing was determined by the mission's unique profile.

Rosetta clears the launch pad
Rosetta clears the launch pad

At 08:20, the booster stages were successfully jettisoned. Nine minutes later, Ariane 5 moved into a ballistic phase, the main cryogenic stage having burnt all its fuel.

At 10:11, almost two hours after liftoff, the upper stage was fired to move Rosetta into an Earth-escape trajectory. Rosetta separated from the stage approximately 14 minutes later.

Launch of the Ariane 5 carrying Rosetta
Launch of the Ariane 5 carrying Rosetta


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