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Gaia is a planned European Space Agency's (ESA) space observatory that will aim to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. It is planned to operate around the Sun–Earth $L_2$ (SEL2) Lagrangian point. What is the flight plan to get Gaia in orbit around SEL2? We can break this down into a few sub-questions:

  • How many Earth flybys are planned?
  • Will the Moon be used as gravity assist?
  • Does it need lots of fuel to slow down near L2?
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Spaceflight Now has a detailed overview of Gaia's launch sequence. There don't seem to be any Earth flybys or gravity assists planned. Just a single orbit around Earth after launch, then the burn to inject Gaia into its L2 transfer trajectory.
Gaia launch sequence When it arrives at L2, a delta-V of 180 meters per second inserts Gaia into its orbit around L2.
Note that seems to disagree with ESA's Gaia website, which states that Gaia will spend 4 days in Earth orbit for systems checks before the L2 injection burn.

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Arianespace’s sixth Soyuz launch from the Guiana Space Center will carry the Gaia space telescope into orbit on L2 next 19th of December at 09:12:18 UTC. More detail about the launch sequence can be read from ESA site

http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/news_20131206

and arianespace launch kit:

http://www.arianespace.com/images/launch-kits/launch-kit-pdf-eng/VS06-launchkit-GB2.pdf

Day - 4

E.

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