Arianespace signs Vega production contracts with ESA and ELV
Arianespace and the European Space Agency signed yesterday in Paris the production contract for the first operational Vega launch.
At the same time, Arianespace and Vega prime contractor ELV signed the VERTA framework contract, covering the five Vega launchers to be delivered after the qualification flight.
The framework contract provides for ELV to deliver five Vega launchers to Arianespace. Vega is a small launch vehicle with three solid-propulsion stages, and a fourth stage with a reignitable liquid rocket engine.
Arianespace will start operation of the new Vega launch system in 2011, alongside the Ariane 5 heavy launcher and the Soyuz medium launcher. These three vehicles comprise the European launcher family operated by Arianespace at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Used primarily to orbit scientific and Earth observation satellites, Vega offers payload capacity of 1,500 kg into polar orbit at 700 km altitude.
The Vega launcher was purpose-designed to meet Arianespace customers’ requirements, and is perfectly suited to the launch of small satellites into low Earth orbit or Sun-synchronous orbit. Vega aims to quickly establish itself as the best launcher in its class.
ELV, based in Colleferro, Italy, is the industrial prime contractor for the Vega program, and is owned 70% by Avio and 30% by the Italian space agency ASI. Vega is a European Space Agency program, jointly financed by Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden.
Arianespace is the world’s leading launch Service & Solutions company, providing innovation to its customers since 1980. Backed by 24 shareholders and the European Space Agency, Arianespace offers an unrivalled family of launchers, comprising Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega, and an international workforce renowned for a culture of commitment and excellence. As of September 1, 2010, Arianespace had launched a total of 281 payloads, including more than half of all the commercial satellites now in service worldwide. It has a backlog of 22 Ariane 5 and 17 Soyuz launches, equal to more than three years of business.