DARMSTADT, Germany — A European rocket blasted off Tuesday on a pioneering 10-year journey to land a probe on a comet and search for clues to the origins of the solar system.
The Rosetta spacecraft soared into the skies above South America aboard an Ariane-5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana. The European Space Agency had scrubbed two scheduled launches last week.
After a final countdown, mission control workers in Darmstadt, outside Frankfurt, stared intently into their monitors as the rocket took off.
About 15 minutes into the mission, European Space Agency officials said the rocket had successfully reached orbit.
Rosetta is expected to reach a comet called Churyumov-Gerasimenko in May 2014. It is supposed to orbit the comet before releasing a lander that will try to touch down on the icy surface of the comet's nucleus. Previous spacecraft have made only brief fly-bys of comets.