1.) Arianespace has published the launchkit for the launch of Gaia by a Soyuz-Fregat launcher planned for December 19. This document outlines the detailed launch sequence beginning with the fueling of the launcher four hours before launch and ending with the separation of Gaia. Information about the targeted orbit is given and all you want to know about the launcher. Please find the document in English at http://www.arianespace.com/images/launch-kits/launch-kit-pdf-eng/VS06-launchkit-GB2.pdf and in French at http://www.arianespace.com/images/launch-kits/launch-kit-pdf-frn/VS06-launchkit-FR2.pdf.
2.) ESA has also published the launch timeline at their website at: http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/news_20131206. This one is ending with the deployment of the sunshield of Gaia as ESA is a bit more interested in the spacecraft and not so much in the launcher. 😉
3.) The official ESA blog has also a new entry by the Gaia project secretary. You did not know that the Gaia project has a secretary? Please read the blog entry of Helma, who has served the project well for about 10 years already! Here it is: http://blogs.esa.int/gaia/2013/12/11/a-secretary-in-the-jungle/.
4.) EADS-Astrium, the company that has built Gaia, has published a nice video that is explaining some details of the mission with some nice comparisons. Please watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrMa3eKDOAc&feature=youtu.be. Additionally, a press release about finishing the preparation of Gaia for the launch was published: http://www.astrium.eads.net/en/press_centre/astrium-has-finalised-preparation-of-gaia-the-star-mapper-of-the-milky-way.html.
5.) Something forgotten? Yes, there are many news about the spacecraft processing. The launch adapter was installed on the lower end of Gaia last Friday already. There is one report with many images from the entire mounting process available here: http://reves-d-espace.com/2013/12/11/gaia-installation-sur-ladaptateur-lanceur/.
But there are also news from this week based on some tweets of @ESAGaia, @idariane and @rvhaarle. Thank you for all the tweets. And please keep us updated!
On Monday Gaia was moved to the next building to be connected with the Fregat upperstage. The latter happened on Tuesday. And today protective covers were removed from the solar panels. Everything went very smoothly. No images are available yet. For tomorrow the installation of the payload fairing is planned. And one important thing is planned – the removal of the protective covers from the telescope openings. Please do not forget this! 😉