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Take a last look at the Vega rocket’s middle-of-the-night liftoff

Europe’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, carrying high-tech thrusters and ultra-sensitive motion sensors to be used in a future gravitational wave detection mission, blasted off from French Guiana early Thursday aboard a nearly 100-foot-tall (30-meter) Vega rocket.

After lifting off at 0404 GMT Thursday (1:04 a.m. French Guiana time; 11:04 p.m. EDT Wednesday), the four-stage Vega booster turned east and accelerated into orbit with LISA Pathfinder, deploying the satellite an hour and 45 minutes later.

Read our full launch story for details on LISA Pathfinder’s pioneering mission.

Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

Source: Space Flight

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Take a last look at the Vega rocket’s middle-of-the-night liftoff

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