Vega-C solid rocket has test failure…as payloads start jumping ship

by | Jun 30, 2023 | Launches, Seradata News, Technology

A test to qualify a new carbon-carbon material in the nozzle on the Vega-C Zefiro-40 second stage solid rocket engine after it was indicated as the source of a launch failure in December 2022 has itself ended in failure – but not of the nozzle.  While the nozzle material is said to have proved itself the rocket itself lost pressure late in its 97s test burn, indicative of a breach further up the structure.

Artist’s impression of Vega-C in flight. Courtesy: ESA

The undisclosed anomaly actually began at 40 s into the burn. The result is that the Avio built stage will have to be re-examined and tested again before Vega-C flights can resume. As a result of the delay which will affect the engire Vega-C launch manifest, and the need to make modifications to the fairing to accommodate it, the European Space Agency has decided to move the EarthCARE science spacecraft from the Vega-C to a SpaceX Falcon 9.  Other ESA payloads may also make a move. For the time being Sentinel-1C radar satellite remains on Vega-C which is set to resume flights later this year.

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