Soyuz Rocket Blasts Mars Express Into Space
The European Mars Express space probe has been placed in 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 Monday 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 injected into its interplanetary orbit.
This first European Space Agency probe–built by an Astrium-led European team–to head for another planet, will enter an orbit around Mars, from where it will perform detailed studies of the planet’s surface, its subsurface structures and its atmosphere.