VEGA launch date set – 26 Jan 2012

by | Oct 26, 2011 | Seradata News | 0 comments

Vega, the European Space Agency’s new light launcher, has now got its maiden flight date set, for 26 January 2012. ESA had been hoping to launch during 2011, but the critical parameter was to get Vega launched between the 20 October launch of Soyuz and the beginning of preparations at Kourou, French Guiana for the next Automated Transfer Vehicle launch, via Ariane 5, to the International Space Station.

European made components have arrived by sea at Kourou from Avio’s factory in Colleferro, near Rome. The inaugural campaign will begin on November 7 with rollout of Vega’s P80 first stage to the launch pad, followed during the subsequent weeks by stacking of the Zefiro 23 second stage and Zefiro 9 third stage – all of which are loaded with solid-propellant. A progress review will be held on December 7 to authorize a continuation of the final integration process – allowing the bi-propellant Attitude and Vernier Upper Module (AVUM) to be mated atop the launcher, and final operations to begin with the mission’s multi-spacecraft payload.

carrying LARES (LAser RElativity Satellite) and nine cubesat educational payloads of varying sizes.

Vega will lift off from the Spaceport’s ZLV launch site, which originally was used for the Ariane 1 and Ariane 3 vehicles.

The medium-lift Soyuz and light category Vega willcomplement ESA’s heavylift Ariane 5s to provide a fully flexible range oflaunch options at Kourou. Vega, whose first stage is one of the world’s biggestcarbon fibre single-piece structures, is designed to launch satellites up to 1.5tonnes into 700km polar orbits. As French Guianais much closer to the equator than Soyuz’s normal launch site at Baikonur,added boost from the Earth’s spin will nearly double its maximum payload togeostationary transfer orbit (GTO) to 3 tonnes. Ariane 5 can lift 10 tonnes to GTO,though ESA member governments are thought to be moving towards approval of amid-life upgrade to increase payload capacity.

A longer-term project is also underway, to develop a ahigh-thrust cryogenic engine that could form the basis of ESA’s next-generationlauncher. It will not fly until about 2025, but is intended to provide amedium-lift capability in a modular design, with a re-ignitable upper stage andoptions for strap-on solid propellant boosters offering extra thrust.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

NORAD to track Santa again

As part of the Christmas celebrations, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) is attempting to track Father Christmas (Santa Claus) Read more

Musk plans a stock offering for SpaceX after successful IPOs in his other firms

Elon Musk, the billionaire Internet, clean energy and rocket entrepreneur who made his initial fortunes in the internet business, most Read more

US military once planned to explode atom bomb on Moon

There has been much tabloid interest in what is a re-release of the revelation originally made by the protect's leader Read more

Opinion: ESA has chosen badly with respect to its launch vehicle development

ESA really had three choices with respect to its launch vehicle development: it could built the Ariane 5 ME which Read more

Musk goes for methane-burning reusable rockets as step to colonise Mars

While speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London in November, the billionaire former Paypal Internet executive, Tesla electric car Read more

No space predictions (or space errors) in Skyfall as James Bond serves his country well (Updated)

While the latest James Bond adventure Skyfall (Director: Sam Mendes) does use a lot of 'Big Brother' surveillance technology to Read more

History: UK gave up impressive space programme including plans to launch UK astronauts “just to get into Europe”

There will be sadness in those "space cadets" in the United Kingdom of all ages as we note that new Read more

Opinion: The madness of imprisoning earthquake scientists may halt satellite seismic forecasting research

To world scientific dismay, on 22 October, seven scientists working at the Italian National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention Read more