Another Vega launcher takes shape at the Spaceport
The Spaceport’s SLV launch site in French Guiana is busy with activity as the fourth lightweight Vega is readied for its mission with Europe’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane.
Build-up of this smallest member in Arianespace’s launcher family is being performed in a vertical assembly process on the SLV launch pad, protected by a mobile gantry that will be withdrawn prior to the vehicle’s liftoff. In the latest integration step this week, Vega’s Zefiro 9 solid propellant third stage was installed atop its lower two solid propellant stages – which were stacked during earlier preparations.
The mission’s IXV passenger – built by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency (ESA) – is an atmospheric reentry demonstrator designed to flight test technologies and critical systems for Europe’s future automated reentry systems as they return from low Earth orbit.