Firing off the launch pad with more than a half-million pounds of thrust, a Vega rocket soared into space Monday night from French Guiana with Europe’s Sentinel 2B environmental satellite.
The 98-foot-tall (30-meter), four-stage rocket, powered by Italian and Ukrainian propulsion, took off at 10:49:24 p.m. local time in French Guiana (0149:24 GMT; 8:49:24 p.m. EST). Less than an hour later, the Vega launcher released Sentinel 2B into its planned orbit nearly 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth.
Read our full story for details on the Vega rocket’s ninth mission.
The images of posted below show the Vega rocket on the launch pad during retraction of the mobile gantry a few hours before flight, followed by the booster’s late-night blastoff.
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three space station crew members hurtled back to Earth Thursday, completing a fiery plunge back through the atmosphere before settling to a frigid touchdown on the snowy steppe of Kazakhstan to close out a 139-day mission.
The European-built Solar Orbiter spacecraft arrived in Florida late Friday after a trans-Atlantic journey from a test center in Germany, ready to begin preparations for a liftoff from Cape Canaveral in February aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.