Take a look back at the fiery blastoff of a Russian Proton rocket Monday with the ExoMars 2016 mission to examine the red planet’s atmosphere and test new European entry, descent and landing technologies.
The 191-foot-tall (58-meter) rocket took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0931:42 GMT (5:31:42 a.m. EDT) Monday with the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander.
Nearly 11 hours later, the rocket’s Breeze M upper stage deployed the ExoMars orbiter on a trajectory toward Mars after a series of maneuvers to build up enough energy to escape Earth’s gravity.
The ExoMars mission will arrive at Mars on Oct. 19, making it the European Space Agency’s second probe to explore the red planet.
With the flagship-class ExoMars program nearing the finish line after a decade in development, European Space Agency officials want to complete negotiations with the mission’s industrial teams before committing to a 2018 launch date for a European-built Mars rover.
Entering the final months of a 12-year mission, Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft is again moving closer to the oddball comet that has engaged scientists since it arrived in 2014, heading for a controlled “smash” landing on the comet’s rugged charcoal-colored surface at the end of September.