Since yesterday, discussions were focused on understanding what was wrong with the rocket and whether we were going to launch… stress and worry could be felt. The problem is that when putting LISAPathfinder into orbit, a part of the rocket upper stage might be a little too cold to function correctly.
This morning we discovered Guyana wildlife by visiting the zoo. On the way back, we noted an important activity of the Foreign Legion which made us think that something was happening. Indeed, before a launch, the army secures the whole site.
During lunch, Stefano Vitale, the scientist leading of the mission, who was next to us received a SMS from Paul McNamara, the ESA Project Scientist: “We go for launch”. The information was confirmed 30 minute later through an announcement made by the officials in charge of launches at ESA and Arianespace: the thermal properties of the last stage of the VEGA rocket had been thoroughly studied and showed no critical issue. LISAPathfinder will launch tonight at 1:04 local time (4:04 GMT). General applause! Next act tonight.
Antoine Petiteau Kourou December 2, 15:00, local time