Green light! Vega is approved for this week’s suborbital mission with the European IXV spaceplane
The lightweight Vega member of Arianespace’s launch vehicle family has been given the “all clear” for liftoff on February 11 with its European Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) payload.
This approval was announced after today’s successful launch readiness review, which is a regular step before each flight of an Arianespace launcher from French Guiana. It confirmed that the Vega and IXV passenger are flight-ready, along with the Spaceport’s infrastructure and the tracking stations for its suborbital trajectory.
The upcoming mission is designated Flight VV04 in Arianespace’s numbering system and will mark the launcher’s second flight within the European Space Agency-managed VERTA (Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment) program. It will be performed from the Spaceport’s ZLV launch site – where the Vega was assembled and now stands in a flight-ready configuration, protected by a mobile gantry that will be rolled back beginning at 2 hrs. 40 min. prior to liftoff.
With today’s readiness review completed, all is set for the Vega’s departure during a 1-hr., 43-min. scheduled launch window that opens on February 11 at 10:00 a.m. local time in French Guiana.
The IXV payload – built for the European Space Agency by Thales Alenia Space – will test reentry technologies that can be used in developing systems and advanced technologies for future transportation systems. After lifting off from South America, Vega will deploy it into a trajectory reaching a maximum altitude of approximately 420 km. During the mission, IXV will fly a fully autonomous profile, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean approximately 100 minutes after liftoff, with the unmanned spaceplane subsequently being picked up by a recovery ship.
Vega is one of three launchers operated by Arianespace at the Spaceport, along with the medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5. The Vega vehicle’s industrial prime contractor is ELV S.p.A., a company created by Avio and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).