Sixth success for the VEGA
After celebrating the success of the sixth mission by the European VEGA launcher, AVIO is ready to round off an exceptional year. With today's flight that left the Kourou European Space Centre in French Guiana, VEGA placed the LISA Pathfinder, the ESA's technological demonstrator, into orbit, bringing the total number of satellites launched since its debut in 2012 to sixteen.
VEGA is the European launcher designed, developed and built in Italy by AVIO through its subsidiary ELV (30% owned by ASI). VEGA belongs to a new generation of vehicles designed to transfer satellites for institutional and scientific purposes into low Earth orbit (some 700 km from Earth), to observe Earth and monitor the environment. 65% built in the AVIO production plant in Colleferro, near Rome, VEGA is able to place in orbit satellites of a mass up to 1,500 kg and completes the family of European launchers.
VEGA placed LISA Pathfinder in a low elliptical orbit with apogee at 1540 km and perigee at 207 km. The satellite's final location will be the Lagrange point L1, 1.5 million km from Earth. It was a complex mission not only for the trajectory, but also for the payload, which was close to two tons (1986 kg) this time, well above VEGA's standard limit.
This is the third flight in 2015 and concludes the development stage (VERTA), because VEGA has completed the full spectrum of missions required: ballistic trajectory (IXV), low Sun-synchronous orbit (Sentinel 2B) and transfer orbit to the Lagrange point L1 (LISA Pathfinder). This signals the start of the commercial phase, and Avio has already signed a contract for ten launchers with Arianespace worth in the region of 260 million Euros.
AVIO's CEO, Giulio Ranzo, attended the launch at Kourou, and commented: "The technology of the VEGA has been seen to be extremely reliable and flexible, responding in the last three years to a wide diversity of route requisites. This is the result of a decade of research and development together with the Italian Space Agency under the auspices of the ESA. Credit is due to Arianespace for having successfully sold the launcher for a wide number of applications. We are confident for the start of VEGA's commercial phase, and we are sure it will satisfy many other customers. Expectations for this launcher were high from the very beginning and the VEGA did not disappoint; on the contrary, it has raised its market profile, successfully placing satellites from Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Estonia into orbit. We already have an order portfolio for ten launches, almost all from the commercial market. VEGA will place satellites from Turkey, Peru into orbit as well as Skybox satellites for Google group".