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ESA’s Euclid space telescope is nearly ready for launch. The spacecraft arrived in Florida on 30 April for final tests and checks, and now being integrated with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will carry it into space.

For the team at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, this means that the most intense phase of their work is about to begin. To prepare themselves, the team has simulated the launch operations, tackling issues ranging from team members falling ill to a computer mouse being taped over.

Euclid is ESA’s space telescope designed to explore the dark Universe. The mission will create the largest, most accurate 3D map of the Universe ever produced across 10 billion years of cosmic time. Euclid will explore how the Universe has expanded and how large-scale structure is distributed across space and time, revealing more about the role of gravity and the nature of dark energy and dark matter.

Euclid is targeted to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA, at 11:11 local time / 16:11 BST / 17:11 CEST on Saturday 1 July 2023. A back-up launch date of Sunday 2 July 2023 is foreseen.