Soyuz Rocket Lifts Mars Express
The European Mars Express space probe has been placed into a trajectory that will take it to Mars by late December. A Soyuz-Fregat rocket sent the probe, weighing 1,120 kilograms, on its journey to Mars from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 2 at 23.45 local time (17:45 GMT). An interim orbit around the Earth was reached following a first firing of the Fregat upper stage. One hour and 32 minutes later, the probe was put into its interplanetary orbit.
This is the first European Space Agency probe to head for another planet. It will enter an orbit around Mars, from where it will perform detailed studies of the planet’s surface, its subsurface structures and its atmosphere.