Europe’s comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft finally lifted off from Kourou, French Guiana, at 0717 GMT on 2 March – five days after its scheduled launch date.

The spacecraft successfully separated from its launch vehicle at 0932 GMT on the first leg of its 10-year journey to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, known as Chury.

It then completed its next crucial step – deploying its solar panels and sending a signal back to mission operators. This manoeuvre was vital because Rosetta’s back-up battery power only lasts a few hours so solar power is essential.

The successful launch…

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