Vega Flight VV06

with LISA Pathfinder


Launch vehicle
Launch date
December 2, 2015
LISA Pathfinder
European Space Agency (ESA)
Prime contractor(s)
Airbus Defence and Space
Launch site
Spaceport, French Guiana (Guiana Space Center)
Elliptical low earth parking orbit for a mission to the L1 Lagrange point


On its 11th launch of the year, and sixth flight overall of the Vega light launcher from the Guiana Space Center, Arianespace will orbit the LISA Pathfinder technology demonstrator for the European Space Agency (ESA). This is Arianespace’s seventh launch of the year overall for European Governments, this time focusing on space research and science. It once again reflects the company’s assigned mission of ensuring independent access to space for Europe.

3 for 3 for Vega in 2015: Arianespace and ELV/AVIO, a successful partnership

Arianespace’s third launch of the year on Vega, marks the operational ramp-up of this light launcher, as well as its ability to sustain its nominal annual launch rate.

The Vega development phase (VERTA) is concluded with this sixth flight, because it has performed the full range of missions: into a ballistic trajectory (IXV); a low Sun-synchronous orbit/SSO (Sentinel 2A); and a transfer orbit to the L1 Lagrange point (LISA Pathfinder).

The Vega launcher program is now fully operational, and Arianespace is gearing up for the future, which includes the active development of the Vega C project.

4:15:00 a.m. (Dec. 2)
Kourou, French Guiana
1:15:00 a.m. (Dec. 2)
Paris, France
5:15:00 a.m. (Dec. 2)
Washington, D.C., USA
11:15:00 p.m. (Dec. 1)


LISA Pathfinder
  • Customer

    European Space Agency (ESA)

  • Prime contractor

    Airbus Defence and Space

  • Mission

    Technology demonstrator of instruments to measure gravitational waves

  • Platform

    Specific / PLA937 / propulsion unit based on E2000 platform

  • Mass

    Approx. 1,906 kg. at liftoff

  • Stabilization

    3 axis

  • Dimensions

    3.137 m in height x 2.429 m in diameter

  • Targeted orbit

    Elliptical low earth parking orbit for a mission to the L1 Lagrange point (at 1.5 million km from Earth) Final orbit Lissajous L1

  • Onboard power

    Lithium battery

  • Design life

    Approx. 1 year

VV06-launchkit-GB2Developed by ESA, LISA Pathfinder is a technology demonstrator that will pave the way for future spaceborne gravitational-wave observatories.

Gravitational-waves, the “ripples in the fabric of space-time” predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, are produced by massive bodies in acceleration. However, despite the attempts of ground-based experiments to detect them directly, gravitational waves so far remain elusive.

LISA Pathfinder is a first step in observing these perturbations; in effect proving the innovative technologies needed, rather than detecting the waves themselves. The spacecraft creates the most “silent” place in the solar system, testing whether it is possible to put two test masses into a near-perfect gravitational freefall. If the two bodies are moving under the effect of gravity alone, only a gravitational wave passing between them would change their separation – and this is what will ultimately be monitored.

LISA Pathfinder comprises two modules: scientific and propulsion. After separation of the propulsion module, LISA Pathfinder will test the instruments needed to reduce external influences on the test masses and measure their relative motion: inertial reference sensors, high-precision laser interferometer, Drag-Free and Attitude Control System (DFACS) and proportional micronewton thrusters.

LISA Pathfinder is the 16th satellite to be launched by Vega.

It also is the 114th spacecraft built by Airbus Defence and Space (and predecessors) to be launched by Arianespace. The company’s current launch manifest includes nine other satellites from Airbus Defence and Space, along with the special order from OneWeb (over 600 satellites).

and flight

  • Start of countdown
  • Activation of MFU (Multi Functional Unit)
  • Activation of Inertial Reference System (IRS)
  • Activation of telemetry
  • show the countdown
  • Liftoff
  • show the countdown
  • Lisa Pathfinder PL release command
  • 3rd ignition of AVUM (de-orbiting)
  • 3rd cut-off of AVUM
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