Vega's inaugural flight is set for February 13 at the Spaceport
February 3, 2012 – Vega Flight VV01
The first Vega qualification flight is set for February 13 from French Guiana, marking an important step toward this new lightweight vehicle’s introduction into Arianespace’s commercial launcher family.
With a liftoff set during a two-hour launch window that extends from 7:00 a.m. local time at the Spaceport, this mission will be performed under responsibility of the European Space Agency – which led Vega’s development with Italy’s ASI space agency and the industrial prime contractor, ELV SpA.
The maiden flight is intended to qualify the overall Vega system, including the vehicle itself, its launch infrastructure and operations – from the launch campaign to payload delivery in orbit.
Vega was conceived for the orbiting of small- to medium-sized satellites, including institutional and scientific spacecraft. Its benchmark mission is for a 1,500 kg. payload lift performance into a 700 km.-altitude circular orbit.
Once qualified, Vega will join Arianespace’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 and medium-lift Soyuz in side-by-side operations at the Spaceport. Operations of this lightweight vehicle are performed from the Spaceport’s ZLV launch site, which originally was used for Ariane 1 and Ariane 3 launcher versions, and has been refurbished for its new role with Vega.
The inaugural Vega mission will carry a payload composed of nine spacecraft: 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.