Vega return to flight proves new rideshare service – SpaceRef
Vega return to flight proves new rideshare service
Press Release From: European Space Agency
Posted: Thursday, September 3, 2020
Vega’s return to flight today proves new launch service capabilities on an ESA-developed launch vehicle while ensuring continuity of Europe’s guaranteed and independent access to space.
This flight marks the fast and efficient completion of corrective measures and actions carried out by industry with ESA in the lead as the Vega Launch System Qualification Authority, following recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry Commission which analysed the failure of Vega flight VV15 on 10Â July 2019.
“It is back to business at Europe’s Spaceport and we are proud that Vega returns to flight to prove a new dedicated launch service. Europe’s first Small Spacecraft Mission Service opens the door for routine affordable access to space for small satellites – a new approach which shows we are addressing new market needs,” commented Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation.
This is a proof-of-concept flight operated by Arianespace as part of ESA’s Light satellites, Low cost, Launch opportunities (LLL) initiative, decided by the ESA Council at Ministerial level in 2016, to prepare the way for routine services for light satellites using the European launch vehicles Vega/Vega-C and Ariane 6.Â
The SSMS dispenser is a modular lightweight carbon-fibre structure designed to transport multiple light payloads to space and can be configured very close to launch to carry a range of different quantities and sizes of satellites. This means Vega can offer affordable and convenient launch opportunities for small satellites, without the constraints of travelling as secondary payloads with much larger satellites. Following deployment of the satellites, the dispenser will deorbit to avoid creating space debris.Â
“This launch demonstrates ESA’s ability to use innovation to lower the costs, become more flexible, more agile and make steps towards commercialisation,” said ESA Director General Jan Wörner, adding “This enhanced ability to access space for innovative small satellites will deliver a range of positive results from new environmental research to demonstrating new technologies.”
Small satellites have opened up opportunities for companies and institutional users to access space for research and commercial applications, and are central to the NewSpace economy.Â
Vega carried seven microsatellites weighing from 15 kg to 150 kg, as well as 46 smaller CubeSats all for release into Sun-synchronous orbits at about 515 km and 530 km altitude. The final satellite was released about 104 minutes after liftoff.Â
About half of the total mass of the 53 satellites aggregated by Arianespace on today’s launch comes from European States (eight of them are represented) and ESA has contributed to the development of four of them – the 113 kgÂ ESAILÂ microsatellite and three CubeSats: Simba, Picasso andÂ FSSCat/Î¦-sat-1.Â
The ESAIL satellite, built in Luxembourg by LuxSpace, will help to deliver the next generation of space-based services for maritime traffic. It will track ships by detecting their automatic…
Read full article