SpaceX to launch the Euclid Space Telescope for the European Space Agency

Euclid Space Telescope mounted to Falcon 9 payload adapter (Credit SpaceX)

SpaceX is targeting no earlier than July 1st at 11:11 a.m. ET (15:11 UTC) for the launch of the European Space Agency’s Euclid space telescope from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Originally meant to launch on a Russian Soyuz 2.1 rocket, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine forced the ESA’s hand to change launch providers, then in October 2022, selected a SpaceX Falcon 9 to launch the telescope.

Euclid will be launched 1.5 million km from Earth to Lagrange Point 2, the same area where NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope resides. Euclid will be used to create a 3D map of the universe, using time as the 3rd dimension. The telescope will collect data in both visible and infrared light seeing as far back as 10 billion light-years.

Euclid’s journey to L2 (Credit European Space Agency)

This will be the 2nd furthest mission SpaceX has initially launched, behind only the DART mission, which was sent 11 million km to intercept the asteroid moon Dimorphos.

Euclid arrived via ship from Cannes, France to Port Canaveral, Florida on May 3rd and then delivered to Astrotech for fueling. The spacecraft was filled with 140 kg of hydrazine and 70 kg of nitrogen on June 16th, this will provide enough fuel for a 6-year mission. It was then mounted onto the Falcon 9 payload adapter on June 23rd and will be encapsulated in the Falcon 9 payload fairings this week if not already completed.

After its launch atop the Falcon 9, Euclid will use its 10 hydrazine-fueled thrusters to head to Lagrange Point 2, which will take ~30 days and once it has arrived, the 6 nitrogen cold gas thrusters will be used by the spacecraft to maintain a stable platform for capturing images.

Euclid isn’t the only mission that was switched to a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. HERA, a mission to study the effects of the DART impact on Dimorphos, was switched from ESA’s new Ariane 6 rocket that has been delayed to late 2023 at the earliest.

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SpaceX to launch the Euclid Space Telescope for the European Space Agency
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