Vega is prepared for the twin Earth observation payloads to be orbited on Arianespace’s August 1 mission
The lightweight Vega launcher for Arianespace’s upcoming mission is undergoing final checkout in French Guiana, readying it to receive a dual payload of Earth observation satellites – consisting of OPTSAT-3000 (as the upper passenger) and Venµs (in the lower passenger position).
Vega was integrated at the Spaceport’s SLV launch site, bringing together the solid propellant P80 first stage, Zefiro 23 second stage and Zefiro 9 third stage; followed by the liquid bipropellant fourth stage, called the AVUM (Attitude and Vernier Upper Module).
The August 1 mission is designated Flight VV10 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, and it will mark Vega’s 10th launch since the 2012 start-up of operations with this vehicle – all of which were successfully performed from French Guiana.
As the smallest member in Arianespace’s launcher family operated at the Spaceport, Vega complements the company’s medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5 in offering a full range of launch service capabilities.
A pair of passengers for Vega
Both satellite passengers on Flight VV10 – Venµs, developed in a joint project of the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and the French CNES space agency; along with OPTSAT-3000 for the Italian Ministry of Defense – will be delivered by Vega to Sun-synchronous orbits.
OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs (left and right, respectively) are shown during their separate checkout processes, both of which were performed inside the Spaceport’s S1 payload preparation facility.
Venµs (for Vegetation and Environment on a New MicroSatellite) is designed to provide close-up and regular monitoring of vegetation on Earth’s surface. By observing plant growth and health status, the spacecraft will help scientists to determine the impacts of environmental factors, human activities and climate change on Earth’s land surfaces.
To fulfil its scientific objectives, Venµs will acquire frequent, high-resolution, multi-spectral images of over 100 sites of interest around the world. Capturing these images will be this spacecraft’s super-spectral camera, which is characterized by 12 narrow spectral bands ranging from 415 nm to 910 nm.
Both Vega payloads were built by Israel Aerospace Industries
As the first Israeli-made satellite created for environmental research purposes, Venµs was built by Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Space Division in collaboration with Elbit, which developed the telescope, and Raphael, providing the propulsion system. The camera was supplied by CNES.
The liftoff mass of Venµs is set at 264 kg. Its scientific mission will be followed by a technological mission at a lowered altitude, which will gauge the performance of IAI-developed Hall-effect thruster technology to counter a satellite’s orbital decay caused by atmospheric drag.
Flight VV10’s other passenger, the OPTSAT-3000 Earth observation satellite, will enable national defense entities to acquire and use high-resolution images from any part of the globe.
The OPTSAT-3000 system was supplied by Telespazio as prime contractor, with responsibility for supply of the entire system: from the satellite to the ground segment, launch and early operation services, the preparation and execution of operations and logistics, through to in-orbit tests and commissioning.
The satellite was built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), chosen by the Italian Ministry of Defence based on inter-governmental Italian-Israeli agreements. OHB Italy is responsible for the launch services and related engineering support.
OPTSAT-3000 will have a liftoff mass set at 368 kg. and a design life of seven years.
Larger versions of the photos above are available for downloading in the Gallery.