1.) ESA has published a new video explaining how the technology of Gaia will work allowing one billion stars to be monitored in 3D during the 5-year mission. Enjoy at:
2.) There was a new entry posted on the official ESA blog website. It is explained why Gaia will have an instantaneous launch window. This means that the Soyuz-Fregat with Gaia on-board needs to be launched within the predefined launch window of 1 second or the launch has to be delayed to the next opportunity, in most cases on the following day. Here is the link to the blog post: http://blogs.esa.int/gaia/2013/11/11/gaia-lift-off-time/.
3.) The satellite Gaia is still in storage in a cleanroom at the launch base in Kourou waiting for the arrival of the repaired transponders from Italy. Both transponders are now for two weeks at Thales Alenia Space Italia (TAS-I) in Rome for repair. Two weeks of repair work were anticipated in earlier reports. No progress report about the repairs was given by any official source. Therefore it is expected that the transponders should be shipped very soon to the launch base in French Guiana and that their re-installation will start during this week.
4.) Furthermore, the arrival of the second passenger for the Ariane 5 ECA VA216 is imminent 3.5 weeks before the launch planned on December 6. The launch preparations for the satellite Amazonas 4A (http://www.orbital.com/SatellitesSpace/Communications/Amazonas4A/index.shtml) of HISPASAT will need to start very soon. Remember, that Amazonas 4A is the small passenger that needs to be installed first on the launcher to be encapsuled in the SYLDA structure of the Ariane 5. Then, the large Astrium-built satellite ASTRA 5B will be mounted on top of the SYLDA structure.