UPDATE 1-Vega rocket blasts off with gravity-hunting satellite
* Mission trials tech to hunt gravitational waves
* Could prove an Albert Einstein theory
* Prototype satellite sent up on Thursday morning (Adds comments of ESA official, further details on mission)
BERLIN, Dec 3 (Reuters) - A Vega rocket bearing a European prototype satellite blasted into space early on Thursday on a mission to search for ripples in space and across time, a phenomenon predicted but never proven by physicist Albert Einstein 100 years ago.
The launch lit up the night sky at the launch site in French Guiana, just north of the Equator in South America, before the rocket disappeared into the clouds, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.
The trailblazing Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, spacecraft will spend about six months testing a technique to detect ripples in space and across time.
The ripples, known as gravitational waves, are caused by massive celestial bodies warping space, similar to a bowling ball rolling across a trampoline.
"Detecting gravitational waves is extremely difficult. The technology is a leap forward, and this technology is on LISA Pathfinder," Arvind Parmar, head of ESA Scientific Support Office, said in a news briefing.
LISA Pathfinder is also expected to pave the way for an even more ambitious project that would set up an observatory in space, a gravitational wave detector that would be the world's largest man-made structure ever. Continuación...