Spaceflight Insider

ESA’s LISA Pathfinder mission delayed

Main Control Room at ESA's Space Operations Centre.

Main Control Room at ESA’s Space Operations Centre. Photo Credit: ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA) has postponed their VV06 launch campaign for the flight of the LISA Pathfinder technology demonstrator spacecraft. The Vega rocket to be used for the mission has developed a technical issue that requires engineering analysis before the launch can move forward. Launch had been slated for Dec. 2 at 21:00 GFT – it is unclear when that flight might now occur.

Flight controllers have the Vega’s payload, ESA’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, in a safe and stable condition while engineers discuss the technical issue.

A review of the engineers’ analysis is due on early December 3, 2015. ESA will then make a determination on if the launch should proceed that day.

The Lisa Pathfinder mission (formerly named SMART-2) is a proof-of-concept experiment. The plan is to place two objects in a near-perfect gravitational free-fall, shielded from the environment. By using a sophisticated management system, the two objects relative spatial relations will be measured using a laser interferometer. Scientists hope to measure the objects to an accuracy of less than 0.01 nanometers.

The LISA Pathfinder mission, if successful, is a precursor to a full gravitational wave experiment called the evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA) to be launched at a later time.


Joe Latrell is a life-long avid space enthusiast having created his own rocket company in Roswell, NM in addition to other consumer space endeavors. He continues to design, build and launch his own rockets and has a passion to see the next generation excited about the opportunities of space exploration. Joe lends his experiences from the corporate and small business arenas to organizations such as Teachers In Space, Inc. He is also actively engaged in his church investing his many skills to assist this and other non-profit endeavors.

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