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Vega September 3, 2020

Arianespace gives a lift to the small-sat market with Vega’s SSMS debut

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying CubeSats and microsatellites on a flight to validate Europe’s innovative Small Spacecraft Mission Service.

With tonight’s successful Vega launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana, Arianespace has extended Europe’s access to space with a new capability to address the rapidly growing segment of small satellites.

Lifting off from the Spaceport’s Vega Launch Complex at 10:51 p.m. local time in French Guiana on September 2 – the planned precise moment of launch – Vega deployed 40-plus small CubeSats and seven microsatellites using a new-design rideshare dispenser system for the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS).

The satellite passengers on the SSMS Proof of Concept rideshare mission were released into Sun-synchronous orbits during a flight sequence lasting 1 hr. and 44 min. from liftoff to final separation, involving multiple deployments with the SSMS dispenser. These spacecraft will serve various applications – including Earth observation, telecommunications, science, technology and education.

SSMS: quality and reliability for customers

The SSMS dispenser is shown with its small-sat passengers prior to encapsulation in Vega’s protective payload fairing during activity at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

By choosing Arianespace and the SSMS rideshare, small satellite operators receive the same level of quality and reliability as the largest customers – while new operators such as laboratories, universities and start-ups are guaranteed optimum conditions for the launch of their space projects.

As a true European effort, the Small Spacecraft Mission Service dispenser system is a European Space Agency (ESA) product developed by Italy’s Avio under ESA leadership, and is produced by the Czech company SAB Aerospace s.r.o. (CZ). The European Union helped finance tonight’s Proof of Concept flight.

SSMS is based on simplified contractual clauses as well as a lean integration chain, with CubeSat integration and flight readiness performed for the first time in Europe, at the Czech Republic.

The Small Spacecraft Mission Service has been designed to be as market responsive as possible, able to accommodate any combination of customers. Regular follow-on SSMS flights are planned once the next-generation Vega C launcher begins operations.

Arianespace launches in 2020

Tonight’s success – designated Flight VV16 – was Arianespace’s sixth mission in 2020 (following three utilizing heavy-lift Ariane 5s and two with medium Soyuz vehicles), as well as the company’s first this year using a lightweight Vega.

Next up in Arianespace’s mission planning is a Soyuz launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana, with its liftoff scheduled for October 16.

  • Read the press release on Arianespace’s Flight VV16.
  • High-resolution photos and posters, along with the Flight VV16 liftoff video, are available in the Gallery.
  • Flight VV16 marked another achievement for Arianespace, having surpassed 700 spacecraft deployed by its launch vehicle family overall. The Corporate News story has full details.

More details are available in the VV16 launch kit:

Vega Flight VV16
PDF / 818 KB

The European Space Agency website:

The European Commission website:

Avio website:

Vega September 2, 2020

Liftoff of Arianespace’s rideshare mission with Vega for small satellites

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