The Vega rocket has passed its readiness inspection in preparation for a return to flight

Satellites Space

Following a setback, late last year that led to the loss of European observation satellites, the Avio’s small launch vehicle is due to fly again in April. Vega was approved for the forthcoming Vega VV18 flight throughout a March 3 flight preparation study undertaken by Avio, launch collaborator Arianespace, as well as the European Space Agency, according to Francesco Delorenzo, the Avio spokesperson.

The 750-kg Pléiades-Neo 1, which is a high-definition Earth observation spacecraft designed and managed by Airbus Defence and Space, is scheduled to deploy from Guiana Space Centre situated in French Guiana on April 20. The project will also carry several secondary payloads, like Eutesat’s ELO Alpha CubeSat as well as 3 Lemur-2 satellites for the Spire Global, a San Francisco-centered data analytics firm that revealed intentions to go public on March 1 by combining with a particular-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Vega’s imminent return to flight comes after two failed launches in the last 3 trials. The first, in 2019 July, culminated in the loss of the FalconEye1 Earth observation spacecraft of the UAE (United Arab Emirates). The most current failure happened on November 16, when the upper stage of Vega spacecraft failed eight minutes after launch from Europe’s French Guiana spaceport. Both of the rocket’s payloads, Spanish SEOSAT-Ingenio Earth observation satellite as well as the 175-kilogram TARANIS satellite designed by the French Space Agency CNES, were lost in the failure.

As part of an investigation, it was determined that the malfunction was caused by two cables which are misconnected on the rocket’s Avum upper stage. The joint investigation by Avio and Arianespace found that Italian rocket manufacturers would need to reevaluate two vehicles which had already been planned for launch, as well as upgrade and develop vehicle integration as well as testing procedures. According to Delorenzo, Vega’s return to flight in the month of April will be used to check the vehicle’s efficiency, both to launch collaborators Arianespace and to clients, as well as to catch up on the backlogged flight manifest.

Arianespace uses the Vega expendable launch program, which was developed jointly by the Italian Space Agency as well as the European Space Agency. The project started in 1998, and the first deployment took place on February 13, 2012, from Centre Spatial Guyanais. It’s planned to deploy small payloads ranging from 300 to 2500 kg to the polar as well as low-Earth orbits for both the scientific and Earth-observation missions.