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  ESA's Vega small expendable launch vehicle

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Author Topic:   ESA's Vega small expendable launch vehicle
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-12-2012 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ESA inaugurates Vega, its new small launch vehicle

The European Space Agency (ESA) is introducing a new launch vehicle for the third time in its history. After Ariane 1 in 1979, Ariane 5 in 1996, 2012 is the year of Vega.

Vega is designed to complement the family of European launchers already available from French Guiana with the Ariane 5 heavy-lift launch system and the Soyuz medium-class launcher.

Vega is a three-stage solid-propellant vehicle with a liquid-propellant maneuverable injection module sized primarily to loft payloads of up to 1,500 kg (3,300 lbs) into polar low-Earth orbits at an altitude of 700 km (435 miles). Its main objective is to provide Europe with a safe, reliable, competitive and efficient capacity for scientific and Earth observation payloads.

Vega will accommodate a wide range of missions — from 300 kg to 2500 kg (660 lbs to 5500 lbs) — into a wide variety of orbits, from equatorial to Sun-synchronous. It can also carry single or multiple payloads depending on mission requirements.

Following a qualification flight, Vega operations will be handed over to Arianespace, which will also be in charge of selling Vega on the international launch market. ESA will be an early customer of Arianespace's new service through a commitment for five launches under the VERTA Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment programme. An initial rate of two launches per year is planned following the qualification flight.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-12-2012 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency release
Final 'go' for Vega launch

Vega is all set for launch on Monday (Feb. 13). The new launcher passed its final hurdle on Saturday (Feb. 11) at Europe's Spaceport, the Launch Readiness Review, and is ready for liftoff.

This last review checks the final status of the entire launch system, including the vehicle and the ground infrastructure, following the full dress rehearsal of the countdown and launch of earlier this week.

The first mission, designated VV01, is scheduled for liftoff during a three-hour launch window lasting 10:00-13:00 GMT (5:00-8:00 a.m. EST; 7:00-10:00 local time).



VV01 flight profile

Vega's P80 solid-propellant engine will be ignited first and a fraction of a second later the vehicle will lift off. It will burn out and separate at 1 min 54 sec. The Zefiro-23 second stage will ignite one second later and be jettisoned 3 min 22 sec into the flight.

About 16 seconds later, the Zefiro-9 third stage will ignite. The fairing protecting the payload during the climb through Earth's atmosphere will be discarded at 3 min 43 sec, followed by Zefiro-9 separation at 5 min 47 sec.

The first firing of the AVUM liquid-propellant fourth stage will begin at 5 min 54 sec; the second will begin at 48 min 7 sec.

At 55 min 5 sec into the flight, Italy's LARES laser-ranging satellite will separate from the upper stage.

AVUM's third burn starting at 66 min 10 sec will be followed by the separation of ALMaSat-1 and the seven CubeSats at 70 min 35 sec.

Vega's flight will be completed 81 min after first-stage ignition.

Vega qualification flight

Flight VV01 will depart from the new Vega launch site at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, carrying nine satellites into orbit.

The payload consists of two Italian satellites - ASI's LARES laser relativity satellite and the University of Bologna's ALMASat-1 - as well as seven picosatellites provided by European universities: e-St@r (Italy), Goliat (Romania), MaSat-1 (Hungary), PW-Sat (Poland), Robusta (France), UniCubeSat GG (Italy) and Xatcobeo (Spain).

The flight will qualify the overall Vega system, including the vehicle, the ground infrastructure and operations, from the launch campaign to the payload separation and disposal of the upper module.

In particular, it will demonstrate the vehicle's performance and payload services.

A flexible mission

Vega will provide Europe with a safe, reliable and competitive capacity to carry science and Earth observation satellites into orbit, perfectly complementing the heavy Ariane 5 and medium Soyuz rockets already launched from the spaceport.

The rocket is designed for a wide range of missions and payload configurations in order to respond to different market opportunities and provide great flexibility.

Unlike most small launchers, Vega is able to place multiple payloads into orbit. In particular, it offers configurations able to handle payloads ranging from a single satellite up to one main satellite plus six microsatellites.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-13-2012 07:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency release
ESA's new Vega launcher scores success on maiden flight

Vega, ESA's new launch vehicle, is ready to operate alongside the Ariane 5 and Soyuz launchers after a successful qualification flight this morning from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

With Vega extending the family of launchers available at the spaceport, Europe now covers the full range of launch needs, from small science and Earth observation satellites to the largest missions like ESA's supply freighters to the International Space Station.

The first Vega lifted off at 10:00 GMT (11:00 CET, 07:00 local time) from the new launch pad, and conducted a flawless qualification flight.

Vega's light launch capacity accommodates a wide range of satellites — from 300 kg to 2500 kg — into a wide variety of orbits, from equatorial to Sun-synchronous. Its reference mission is 1500 kg into a 700 km-high circular Sun-synchronous orbit.

Vega will thus add to Europe's set of launch services next to the Ariane 5 heavy-lifter and the Soyuz medium-class launcher already in service.

The combination of these three systems operating from French Guiana will also improve the efficiency of Europe's launch infrastructure by sharing its operating costs over a larger number of launches.

"In a little more than three months, Europe has increased the number of launchers it operates from one to three, widening significantly the range of launch services offered by the European operator Arianespace. There is not anymore one single European satellite which cannot be launched by a European launcher service," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA.

"It is a great day for ESA, its Member States, in particularly Italy where Vega was born, for European industry and for Arianespace."

Vega launcher development started in 2003. Seven Member States contributed to the programme: Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

"Today is a moment of pride for Europe as well as those around 1000 individuals who have been involved in developing the world's most modern and competitive launcher system for small satellites," said Antonio Fabrizi, ESA's Director of Launchers.

"ESA, with the technical support of the Italian and French space agencies, and about 40 industrial companies coordinated by the prime contractor ELV SpA, have made this enormous challenge a reality in under a decade of development."

See here for discussion of ESA's Vega small expendable launch vehicle.

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