Vega Flight VV17


Launch date
November 16, 2020
Launch vehicle
Launch site
Spaceport, French Guiana (Guiana Space Center)
European Space Agency on behalf of CDTI, CNES
Prime contractor(s)
Airbus Defence and Space, CNES
Sun-synchronous orbit


For its seventh launch of the year – and the 17th to be performed by the Vega launcher since its first liftoff from the Guiana space center in 2012 – Arianespace will orbit two satellites: SEOSAT-Ingenio for ESA, on behalf of Spain’s Center for Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), and TARANIS for CNES, the French space agency.

With this launch, Arianespace reasserts its primary mission by ensuring European independent access to space.

08:52 pm (Nov. 16)
Washington D.C.
10:52 pm (Nov. 16)
01:52 (Nov. 17)
Universal Time
02:52 am (Nov. 17)
Paris and Madrid



By launching SEOSAT-Ingenio, the first Spanish Earth observation satellite, Ari anespace reinforces its relationship with Spain (fifth contributor at ESA) – a coun try that also is very involved in European launchers program.

SEOSAT-Ingenio is a high-resolution optical imaging mission of Spain – the flagship mission of the Spanish space strategic plan. Its mission is devoted to ensure an even coverage of the areas of national interest, providing a large operational capability in the capture of high-resolution multi-spectral land optical images for numerous user groups, as well as supporting and optimizing the development in Spain of teledetection-based applications in Spain.

The overall mission objective is to provide information for applications in cartography, land use, urban management, water management, environmental monitoring, risk management and security.

With its capability to look sideways, it can access any point on Earth within three days, and will be used to help map natural disasters such as floods, wildfires and earthquakes – as well as help with one of humankind’s biggest challenges: understanding and responding to climate change.

SEOSAT-Ingenio will be the 57th mission (79th satellite) to be launched by Arianespace for ESA (ESA/Earth observation programs directorate) at the benefit of Spain’s Center for Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI – Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial). INTA, the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (in Torrejon de Ardoz- Madrid) will own and operate the satellite.

The SEOSAT-Ingenio spacecraft is the first built by an industrial consortium of the Spanish space sector companies led by Airbus Defence and Space. SEOSAT-Ingenio will be the 128th Airbus Defence and Space satellite to be launched by Arianespace.

There are currently 20 Airbus Defence and Space satellites in Arianespace’s backlog. In addition, Airbus Defence and Space is also involved in the design and manufacturing of the OneWeb satellites to be deployed by Arianespace.

There are seven additional ESA missions (for nine satellites) in the Arianespace backlog.


Arianespace at the service of the French space program with TARANIS, the CNES scientific satellite.

TARANIS (Tool for the Analysis of RAdiation from lightNIng and Sprites), the Celtic god of thunder and lightning, is the first satellite designed to observe luminous, radiative and electromagnetic phenomena occurring at altitudes of 20 to 100 km over thunderstorms.

Discovered 20 years ago, such transient luminous events (TLEs) such as red sprites, blue jets, elves, sprite halos, etc. remain shrouded in mystery. They are sometimes accompanied by terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs). The correlation between these TLEs and TGFs is one of the scientific questions the TARANIS mission hopes to answer. TLEs has been observed for the first time since the ROCSAT-2 satellite, renamed FORMOSAT-2, the second high-resolution Earth Observation satellite for the Taiwanese National Space Program Office (NSPO), manufactured Airbus Defence and Space.

The TARANIS microsatellite will fly over thousands of TLEs and TGFs for at least four years and will be capable of detecting these events and recording their luminous and radiative signatures at high resolution, as well as the electromagnetic perturbations they set off in Earth’s upper atmosphere. The payload includes numerous sensors to observe the TLEs and to perform in-situ measurements of perturbations caused on the local plasma (fields, waves and particles).

The TARANIS mission has three main objectives:

  • Advance physical understanding of the links between TLEs (red sprites, blue jets, elves, sprite halos… currently named “Transient Luminous Events”) and TGFs (Terrestrial Gamma ray Flashes), in their source regions, and the environmental conditions (lightning activity, variations in the thermal plasma, occurrence of extensive atmospheric shower…).
  • Identification of the generation mechanisms for TLEs and TGFs and, in particular, the particle and wave field events, which are involved in the generation processes or which are produced by the generation processes.
  • Evaluation of the potential effects of TLEs, TGFs, and bursts of precipitated and accelerated electrons (in particular lightning induced electron precipitation and runaway electron beams) on the Earth atmosphere or on the radiation belts.

TARANIS will be the 18th satellite (including Pleiades satellites) to be launched by Arianespace for CNES as a customer.

TARANIS will be the seventh satellite to be launched by Arianespace for CNES as a manufacturer.

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