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Soyuz VS06 transfer to launch zone
Enabling & Support

Gaia liftoff timeline

18/12/2013 3078 views 17 likes
ESA / Enabling & Support / Operations

Find below an outline timeline for the launch of Gaia on 19 December 2013. See notes below table for details. All times subject to change. Follow launch live via ESA TV, starting 08:50 GMT (09:50 CET). 

Timeline 19 December 2013

Gaia will be launched on a Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It will be operated by teams at ESOC, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.

Once in orbit and during normal operations, ESA’s most powerful ground stations – the 35 m-diameter Deep Space Antennas at Cebreros (Spain) and New Norcia (Australia) – will relay information to and from the spacecraft.

Science operations will be conducted from ESAC, the European Space Astronomy Centre, Villafranca, Spain.

Note that all times below are subject to change and are provided for general reference only.

DateGMTCETMET (hrs:min)Event
18-Dec19:1220:12-14:00ESOC countdown start
18-Dec20:1221:12-13:00Gaia switched ON
19-Dec03:1204:12-06:00Network countdown start
19-Dec07:1208:12-02:00Shift handover in Main Control Room (B- to A-team); handover briefing 15 min before
19-Dec08:2209:22-00:50Roll Call: voice roll call on the briefing intercom loop
19-Dec08:5709:57-00:15Gaia switched to internal power
19-Dec09:0210:02-00:10Final ESOC GO/NOGO
19-Dec09:1010:10-00:03Umbilical disconnect
19-Dec09:1210:1200:00Lift-off (H0)
19-Dec09:1410:1400:02First stage separation
19-Dec09:1610:1600:04Fairing separation
Aerodynamic fairing no longer needed once above the atmosphere
19-Dec09:1710:1700:05Second stage separation
19-Dec09:2110:2100:09Upper stage (Gaia+Fregat composite) separation
19-Dec09:2510:2500:10Fregat first burn
About 76 sec

Fregat coast phase
About 9 min

19-Dec09:4910:4900:21Fregat second burn
About 15 min 34 sec
19-Dec09:5110:5100:39Acquisition of signal from Fregat (via Perth Station, Australia)

Gaia separation from Fregat (H0 + 00:42:00)
Start of the on-board automated sequence
Acquisition of signal from Gaia (via Perth Station, Australia)

19-Dec09:5710:5700:45Exact separation time reported to Flight Director
19-Dec10:1211:1201:00Switch to X-band tracking in Perth Station
19-Dec10:4211:4201:30Official separation fax from Arianespace - includes launch vehicle details and orbital parameters
19-Dec13:1214:1204:00Preliminary orbit assessment by ESA Flight Dynamics
23-Dec09:1210:1296:00End of Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP)


  • All times are forecast only and subject to change
  • Times shown in italics are approximate
  • MET: Mission elapsed time as counted at ESOC
  • CET: Central European Time (winter)
  • Timeline sources: ESA

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