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The 2,030 kg (4,475 lb) unmanned probe is at the start of a five-year mission to carry out a survey of one percent of one percent of the 100 billion stars that make up our galaxy as part of a project to produce the most detailed three-dimensional galactic map ever attempted.
According to ESA, the liftoff went as scheduled and without a hitch. As the rocket rose, it carried out a series of automated sequences. About 118 seconds into the flight, the four side boosters on the Soyuz fell away, and at 220 seconds the protective fairing around the Gaia spacecraft was jettisoned.
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