No ESA mission can fly until the pre-launch briefing is complete and we have the all important group photo. This is the team that will fly Euclid and settle it into its new home in space, all the while ensuring its safety and the functioning of its extremely sensitive instruments, allowing it to peer ten billion years back in time to the early Universe.
Briefing complete, mission control is GO for launch.
On Tuesday afternoon, teams at ESA’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, completed another final crucial step in the run up to the launch of ESA’s Euclid space telescope: the dress rehearsal.
After months of simulations, the team at mission control brought together the various Euclid partners and the spacecraft itself, for the final fully integrated rehearsal before launch.
The rehearsal is a live re-enactment of the ‘network countdown’, where teams run through every step that takes place on launch day – every word spoken, every confirmation given, every button pressed.
“The dress rehearsal went very well. It was a joint exercise between the teams at ESA, the spacecraft manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, and all the teams in Florida. The rehearsal involved communicating between the real ground stations and operational systems and facilities that we will use for Euclid’s launch and early orbit phase (LEOP),” says Euclid Flight Director Andreas Rudolph. “Overall, another important successful step towards the big day.”
Euclid is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher on 1 July at 17:12 CEST.
After launch, ESA mission control will perform a trajectory correction manoeuvre to guide Euclid through its journey to ‘Lagrange point 2’ – one of five points around the Sun and Earth where the gravitational forces between the two bodies balance out, creating gravitational ‘plateaus’ around which objects can orbit, stably, without too much work to keep them in place.
There, ESA’s new cosmic detective will join the Agency’s Gaia telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. From an average distance of 1.5 million km from Earth, it will send back a record amount of data back via ESA’s Estrack network of ground stations across the globe about details on the early Universe and its evolution.