[SatNews] The Soyuz launcher for an ambitious mission of developing the Milky Way’s most precise three-dimensional map is completing its basic build-up following mating of the vehicle’s Block I third stage in French Guiana.
This step occurred in the Spaceport’s MIK Launcher Integration Building, enabling checkout of the integrated Soyuz prior to its upcoming transfer to the launch pad—where the European Space Agency’s Gaia star-mapper satellite and Fregat upper stage will be installed.
Scheduled for liftoff on December 19, the mission—designated Soyuz Flight VS06—will be Arianespace’s sixth with the workhorse Russian-built launcher from French Guiana since its service entry at the Spaceport in October 2011.
Gaia will make the largest three-dimensional map of the Milky Way by surveying an unprecedented one percent of its 100 billion stars. The Astrium-built spacecraft also is expected to discover hundreds of thousands of unknown celestial objects, including extra-solar planets and failed stars known as brown dwarfs.
More information regarding the launch is available at http://www.arianespace.com/