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The Mission
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Launch Vehicle
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Mars Orbit Insertion
Entry, Descent and Landing
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What is Launch?

Launch gives the spacecraft the velocity it needs to escape Earth's gravity and set course for Mars.

Most of the power needed to propel Mars Express from Earth to Mars is provided by the four stage Soyuz Fregat launcher which separated from the spacecraft after placing it on a Mars-bound trajectory. [More details in the Launch Vehicle section]

What happens during Launch?

Here's what happened during launch:

  • The four side boosters and the core (first) stage ignite at the same time before lift off, and the lateral boosters shut down and separate first.
  • After the first stage has used all its fuel, it separates and the second stage continues to burn.
  • The main engine on the fourth stage, the Fregat, is ignited twice. The first ignition puts the Fregat into a circular orbit after separation from Soyuz. The second, a few hours later, injects Mars Express into its interplanetary flight trajectory.
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