Gaia Satellite lifts off

A satellite that has been launched into orbit around the sun today was partly built in Stevenage.

Stevenage scientists play pivotal role as world's most powerful telescope is launched

Scientists in the East are celebrating the successful launch of the most powerful space telescope ever built.

Gaia will travel four times the distance of the moon, mapping the precise positions of a billion stars, and sending the information back to Cambridge University.

Sarah Beecroft watched the launch live from Astrium in Stevenage, where much of the work on the satellite was carried out.

Click below to watch a report from Sarah Beecroft

Stevenage scientists celebrate successful Gaia launch

Scientists in Stevenage are celebrating the successful launch of the most powerful space telescope ever built.

Gaia will travel four times the distance of the moon to map the precise positions and distances of a billion stars.

The European Space Agency's five year mission will help scientists understand how the Milky Way galaxy is built up.

Much of the work on the satellite was carried out at Astrium in Stevenage.

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Space telescope Gaia begins star mapping mission

The European Space Agency's billion-star surveyor, Gaia, has been launched into space on a Soyuz rocket.

Gaia is set to embark on a five-year mission to map the stars in 3D with unprecedented precision and discover thousands of previously unknown objects, including exploding stars, planets orbiting other suns, and nearby asteroids.

British scientists and engineers have played key roles in the design and construction of the two-tonne space telescope, which blasted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Scientists also hope Gaia will yield clues about mysterious Dark Matter and Dark Energy.