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Vega October 13, 2020

Arianespace offers new shared smallsat payload opportunities on its Vega launcher; the next mission already is fully booked

Arianespace today announced that new shared payload opportunities to low Earth orbit (LEO) have been opened with its Vega launcher’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS).

For the next launch opportunity – Vega Flight VV18, targeted for the first quarter of 2021 – five companies already have signed contracts for payload slots, thereby fully booking the capacity on this mission.

The initial SSMS launch with Vega – Flight VV16 – was performed last month, fully proving the viability of Arianespace’s latest capability for orbiting small satellites. This inaugural SSMS launch was supported by the European Space Agency and the European Union, deploying 50-plus satellites for 21 commercial and institutional customers.

With the SSMS’ successful introduction, Arianespace is now able to offer a regular launch service for small satellites (mass under 400 kg). Customers will benefit from the highly modular payload carrying systems available on the current Vega and the enhanced Vega C version, along with the reignition capability of the launchers’ AVUM upper stage, as well as the new small spacecraft preparation and integration facilities in Europe that complement existing installations at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

Vega C maiden flight is schedule for mid-2021.

Upcoming launch opportunities for small satellites will be published regularly on the website. Opportunities in 2021 include:

Launcher Launch
Targeted orbit for
smallsat passengers
Type of mission Available payload slots
Vega – VV18 Q1 2021 SSO, Local solar Time on Descending Node (LTDN) of 10:30
One targeted altitude in the range of 550-610 km.
Piggyback Fully booked
Vega – VV19  Q2 2021 SSO, LTDN of 10:30
One targeted altitude in the range of 550-610 km.
Piggyback For nanosat and CubeSat deployers
Vega C  Q4 2021 SSO, LTDN of 10:00 –11:00
Three targeted altitudes in the range of 500-640 km.
Rideshare For any smallsats

Longer-term opportunities include an SSMS mission to dawn-dusk low Earth orbit, and one to low Earth equatorial orbit.

For Vega’s next SSMS launch, Flight VV18 will be a piggyback mission with a dispenser configuration based on one hexagonal module below the main payload interface. Its fully-booked capacity underscores how attractive this opportunity was to users and customers, including Spire and Nanoavionics through SAB Launch Services; Eutelsat and Myriota, through Tyvak; and the Norwegian Space Center with its Norsat-3 satellite, through SpaceFlight Laboratories.

With the goal of further benefiting the small satellite community, Arianespace today released the new SSMS User’s Manual for Vega C. On Vega C, the SSMS will offer even greater performance capabilities and is to broaden the array of solutions that Arianespace provides to small satellite operators. The SSMS User’s Manual is available for downloading from the Arianespace website.

Small, versatile, and efficient, the light-lift Vega is part of Arianespace’s launcher family, operating from the Guiana Space Center alongside the heavyweight Ariane 5 and the medium-lift Soyuz. Vega is a European Space Agency program; Italy’s Avio, based in Colleferro, is Vega’s industrial prime contractor, as well as the design lead for the SSMS.

About Arianespace

Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services and solutions for all types of satellites (institutional and commercial) into all orbits. It has orbited more than 740 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur (Central Asia). Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility in Kourou at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.

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With Vega, Arianespace successfully performs the first European mission to launch multiple small satellites

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