Expanding Arianespace’s launcher family: Vega completes its qualification mission
The newest member for Arianespace’s launcher family – the lightweight Vega – successfully completed its qualification flight today from French Guiana to demonstrate the vehicle’s performance and payload services.
Lifting off from the Spaceport’s ZLV launch site, this no. 1 Vega deployed nine spacecraft into orbit. It carried Italy’s LARES laser relativity satellite, the small ALMASat-1 technology microsatellite demonstrator from the University of Bologne, and seven CubeSats developed by more than 250 university students from six different countries.
Today’s flight was performed under responsibility of the European Space Agency, and its goal was to qualify the overall Vega system – including the vehicle, its ground infrastructure at the Spaceport, and operations from the launch campaign to payload deployment.
Vega was developed as a capable lightweight launcher to join Arianespace’s medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5, providing it with a complete family of vehicles to meet the company’s motto of delivering “any payload, to any orbit…anytime.”
The Vega is powered by three solid propellant stages and a liquid-propellant fourth stage. It was developed by the European Space Agency, Italy’s ASI space agency, and the French CNES space agency. Production is handled in an industry team led by industrial prime contractor, ELV SpA.
Vega’s flexibility enables varied payloads to be carried – from a single passenger to mixes of satellites, microsatellites and cubesats. Its benchmark mission is for a 1,500 kg. payload lift performance into a 700 km.-altitude circular orbit.