ESA to raise Vega awareness

by Chris Bergin

The European Space Agency (ESA) is to make a presentation to potential customers interested in launching payloads on their new Vega launch vehicle.

The 30 meter tall rocket is set for its qualification launch at the end of 2007 – targeting a market of micro and mini satellites of between 200 to 600 kg into Sun Synchronous orbits, Low Earth orbits and escape trajectories for use by scientific missions.
Vega Customer Day will be held in Rome this Thursday, as ESA hope to give assurances over their confidence in the new small launch system.

‘This event is important as we need to create a forum for a continuous and deep exchange between our teams to develop the most effective environment and solutions for the end-mission requirements,’ said Arianespace General Secretary and Senior Vice-President – Finances, Françoise Bouzitat, on ESA’s official site.

Organised by the three main contractors of the Vega: ELV, Avio and Vitrociset, this will not be the first major meeting of aerospace industry heads. Representatives met in Colleferro a week ago on the 2nd Vega Industry Day, to give an update on the development of the Vega. ELV is the prime contractor for the launch vehicle, Avio for the P80 first stage solid rocket motor and Vitrociset for the ground segment.

‘ESA is continually monitoring Vega’s development and the launcher is on track for a qualification launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at the end of 2007,’ added ESA Director of Launchers, Antonio Fabrizi. ‘Vega fits Europe’s policy for the use of European launchers; that is to link the development of satellites with that of launchers, to ensure a coherent approach to European space activities.’

Vega’s capacity ranges from launch payloads of 300 to 2500 kg – and will also offer payload configurations ranging from a single satellite, up to one main satellite plus six micro-satellites.

Although half the size of the Ariane 5 ECA, Vega has an advanced on board flight system – as well as using existing Ariane technology. ‘Vega’s ‘brain’, the on-board computer, is 10 times faster than that of an Ariane 5, despite being much smaller,’ noted Paolo Bellomi of ELV. There have also been advances in developing the first stage P80 solid rocket motor.

At the end of this year, testing will take place on the 2nd stage Zefiro 23 motor, which will take place in Sardinia, while the test fire of the P80 Solid Rocket Motor demonstrator is set for September, 2006.

‘We are in line with the Vega Development Programme objectives,’ noted Philippe Pascal, the CNES P80 project manager. ‘The first firing test of the P80 Solid Rocket Motor demonstration model will take place in French Guiana in September 2006 and we expect to deliver the P80 engine flight model in August 2007, in time for the qualification flight campaign preparation.’

Related Articles