Well, then ESA provides a lot of interesting information about the Soyuz-Fregat that will propel Gaia on its way to the final destination, an orbit around the L2 point, in its latest blog entry related to the launch of Gaia: http://blogs.esa.int/gaia/2013/09/24/356/ .
And maybe you are asking what is this L2 point? ESA has again the answer in the same blog: http://blogs.esa.int/gaia/2013/09/06/gaia-goes-to-l2-whats-an-ell-two/.
But back on topic – the Soyuz-Fregat launcher. Over the weekend we had a third successful test launch of our big Soyuz-Fregat model. We tested to use a less powerful motor this time as we had the impression that on earlier test flights the rocket was flying a little bit too high for our purposes. Well, not the way up is a problem, it is on the way down under a parachute. If you have some wind then the rocket-parachute combination is drifting a lot. And here close to the coast of the Mediterranian Sea we have almost always some wind going on. Well, the test went fine. But the feelings about it are a little bit mixed as we did not get an impressive smoke trail as during the earlier tests. The rocket motor used now has a different propellant mixture compared to the ones used before yielding less smoke but the same amount of hot gas. Feel free to compare with the videos from the first two flights:
You may also have noticed that this time the rocket was launching faster. Is this what we really want? We are still thinking about it.
We also had a second test flight of the Vega rocket model. Everything went very smoothly again. And we are thinking already on the next step. The next thing to be build will be a model of the proposed Ariane 6 launcher – equipped with three active boosters as the first stage. We are on the way to a Mini-Kourou 😉 Dream on, boy (girls are not excluded!).