Arianespace’s Vega is “topped off” with its upper stage
With the integration of its AVUM upper stage, Vega’s basic build-up is complete for Arianespace’s upcoming light-lift mission with Europe’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane.
As part of Vega’s vertical assembly process on the launch pad, the vehicle’s AVUM (Attitude and Vernier Upper Module) – which uses liquid bi-propellant for primary maneuvering, along with cold gas for attitude control – was hoisted and mated to the three lower solid propellant stages.
This activity occurred at the Spaceport’s SLV launch site – originally used for Ariane 1 and Ariane 3 missions, with its mobile gantry, launch pad and infrastructure updated and adapted for Arianespace’s new lightweight vehicle.
The European Space Agency’s IXV atmospheric reentry demonstrator – built by Thales Alenia Space – is designed to flight test technologies and critical systems for Europe’s future automated reentry systems as they return from low Earth orbit.