Vega is cleared for its December 2 liftoff with LISA Pathfinder to study the ripples in space-time
Following today’s launch readiness review at the Spaceport in French Guiana, Arianespace’s lightweight Vega has been given the go-ahead for its mission Wednesday to orbit the European Space Agency’s pioneering LISA Pathfinder technology demonstrator.
This regular step in Arianespace’s pre-launch preparations confirmed that the Vega launcher and its LISA Pathfinder payload are ready for flight, along with the Spaceport’s infrastructure, and the downrange tracking station network.
As Arianespace’s 11th total mission so far this year across its complete family of Vega, Ariane 5 and Soyuz vehicles, Wednesday’s early-morning launch – designated Vega Flight VV06 in the company’s numbering system – will lift off at exactly 1:15 a.m. local time in French Guiana.
Following liftoff from the Spaceport’s SLV complex, the powered phase of Vega’s first three stages will last six and a half minutes, before separation of the upper composite with the AVUM (Attitude & Vernier Upper Module) stage, payload adapter and LISA Pathfinder.
Approximately one minute later, the AVUM will ignite for its first burn – lasting almost nine minutes – which is to be followed by a ballistic phase of about 85 minutes. Finally, the AVUM will perform a second powered phase of some one and a half minutes, in advance of LISA Pathfinder’s deployment into an elliptical low-Earth parking orbit to complete the one-hour, 45-minute mission.
LISA Pathfinder is a technology demonstrator developed in a European Space Agency program and built by prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space. After being orbited by Vega, this space probe will utilize its own propulsion module to reach an operational orbit around the first Sun-Earth Lagrange point (L1), from where it will study the ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
Flight VV06 will be Vega’s sixth overall mission since it entered service in 2012, and the lightweight vehicle’s third launch this year.