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Vega
Vega Upper Stage
Vega Upper Stage
Credit: NASA
Primarily Italian all-solid propellant launch vehicle. After years of furious debate, a $173 million development program began, 52% funded by Italy and 34% by France. As of the first firing of the P80 first stage motor at the end of 2006, first flight had slipped into 2008 from a 2007 original planned date.

Status: Active. First Launch: 2012-02-13. Last Launch: 2015-06-23. Number: 5 . Payload: 1,500 kg (3,300 lb). Thrust: 3,040.00 kN (683,410 lbf). Gross mass: 137,000 kg (302,000 lb). Height: 30.00 m (98.00 ft). Diameter: 3.00 m (9.80 ft). Apogee: 700 km (430 mi).

Italy long tried to carve a niche for itself as a supplier of solid-propellant orbital launch vehicles, beginning with the San Marco Scout program in the 1960's. The hoped-for Advanced Scout 2 never materialized, and in the mid-1990s, the Italian Space Agency turned to a concept called VEGA (Vettore Europeo di Generazione Avanzata). This went through several versions:

  • 1995 - Three-stage vehicle. The first two stages would use a BPD Zefiro motor, 1.9 m in diameter with a mass of 16 metric tons. A nose fairing would cover the payload and the third stage, an IRIS (Italian Research Interim Stage) apogee kick stage, 1.3 m in diameter with a mass of 1.7 metric tons. Maximum payload would be 700 kg to low earth orbit.

  • 1997 - FIAT Avio collaborated with NPO Yuzhnoye to propose two possible variants:

    • Vega K0 - a four stage vehicle, again using two P16 Zefiros as the first and second stages. The upper stages would be built by Yuzhnoye and use N2O4/UDMH liquid propellants. The third stage would use a 78 kN RD-861 engine, and the fourth an RD-869. Payload would be 300 kg to a 700 km polar orbit.
    • Vega K - The first stage would be a P85 shortened Ariane 5 solid rocket booster. Payload would be 1600 kg to a 700 km polar orbit.

  • 1998 - the configuration selected at an ESA council meeting in June 1998 was a three-stage solid vehicle. This would use the P85/P16 lower stages of the Vega K but have a single West European third stage. Provisionally this would be built by Aerospatiale and be a 7 metric ton P7 solid propellant stage with an auxiliary liquid propulsion module for high-accuracy orbital insertion. This could place a 2,000 kg payload into a 700 km circular orbit.
  • 2004 - the final configuration selected for development was a four-stage solid vehicle. This would use a smaller P80 first stage and P23/P9 upper stages derived from the Vega K's P16, together with a liquid AUVM fourth stage for payload insertion. This could place a 1,500 kg payload into a 700 km polar orbit.

Although BPD conducted the first static firing of a P16 Zefiro on June 22, 1998, the collapse of the space launch market, the multiple Ariane 5 failures, and the costs of the International Space Station put the Vega very far back on ESA's priority list. By the end of 2006 all of the Vega's solid stages had been test fired, but the AUVM upper stage was becoming the pacing item.

LEO Payload: 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) to a 700 km orbit at 98.00 degrees.

Family: all-solid, orbital launch vehicle. Country: Italy. Engines: RD-861G. Spacecraft: Almasat, IXV, LARES, LARES Support System, LEOStar-2, Sentinel, PROBA, Cubesat, Myriade. Launch Sites: Kourou ZLV, Kourou ELV. Stages: P80, Zefiro 23, Zefiro 9. More at: 8750. Bibliography: 572.



2012 February 13 - . 10:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELV. LV Family: Vega. Launch Vehicle: Vega.
  • LARES - . Mass: 390 kg (850 lb). Nation: Italy. Class: Earth. Type: Geodetic satellite. Spacecraft Bus: LARES. Spacecraft: LARES. USAF Sat Cat: 38077 . COSPAR: 2012-006A. Apogee: 1,452 km (902 mi). Perigee: 1,436 km (892 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 114.80 min.

    Laser Relativity Satellite, a 390 kg, 0.38 m diameter tungsten sphere covered with 92 laser retroreflectors. Used to probe relativistic effects in the Earth's gravitational field. The satellite had the lowest ballistic coefficient of any satellite ever launched. First launch of the ESA/Italian Vega launch vehicle.

  • UNICubeSat-GG - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: Italy. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. USAF Sat Cat: 38078 . COSPAR: 2012-006B. Apogee: 1,415 km (879 mi). Perigee: 312 km (193 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 102.20 min. Student 1U cubesat from the GAUSS team-Universita Roma La Sapienza with a gravity gradient experiment. First Italian CubeSat..
  • Almasat - . Mass: 12 kg (26 lb). Nation: Italy. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Almasat. Spacecraft: Almasat. USAF Sat Cat: 38078 . COSPAR: 2012-006B. Apogee: 1,415 km (879 mi). Perigee: 312 km (193 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 102.20 min. Student satellite from the University of Bologna, testing a cold gas microthruster system and the platform for a future Earth observing satellite..
  • MaSat-1 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: Hungary. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2015-01-16 . USAF Sat Cat: 38079 . COSPAR: 2012-006C. Apogee: 1,385 km (860 mi). Perigee: 305 km (189 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 101.80 min. Student 1U cubesat from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Technological demonstration. Successful. First Hungarian satellite.
  • PWSat-1 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: Poland. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2014-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 38080 . COSPAR: 2012-006D. Apogee: 1,384 km (859 mi). Perigee: 306 km (190 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 101.80 min. 1U cubesat student satellite from the Warsaw Institute of Technology..
  • Goliat - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: Romania. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2015-01-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 38081 . COSPAR: 2012-006E. Apogee: 1,386 km (861 mi). Perigee: 305 km (189 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 101.80 min. Student 1U cubesat from the University of Bucharest. Earth imaging and space environment measuring. First Romanian satellite..
  • e-st@r - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: Italy. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2014-08-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 38082 . COSPAR: 2012-006F. Apogee: 1,376 km (855 mi). Perigee: 305 km (189 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 101.70 min. Student satellite from the Politecnico di Torino..
  • ROBUSTA - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: France. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2014-10-28 . USAF Sat Cat: 38083 . COSPAR: 2012-006G. Apogee: 1,379 km (856 mi). Perigee: 306 km (190 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 101.80 min. Student 1U cubesat from the Universite' de Montpellier. Mission: Radiation effects on bipolar-transistor-based circuits. Status: Failed. First French CubeSat.
  • XaTcobeo - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: Spain. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. Decay Date: 2015-01-28 . USAF Sat Cat: 38084 . COSPAR: 2012-006H. Apogee: 1,390 km (860 mi). Perigee: 305 km (189 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 101.90 min. Student satellite from the University of Vigo..
  • LARES Support System - . Mass: 300 kg (660 lb). Nation: Europe. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: LARES Support System. Spacecraft: LARES Support System. USAF Sat Cat: 38086 . COSPAR: 2012-006K. Apogee: 1,394 km (866 mi). Perigee: 270 km (160 mi). Inclination: 69.5000 deg. Period: 101.50 min. Remained attached to the AVUM upper stage. Included extensive instrumentation to monitor the launch vehicle during ascent. It also deployed seven 1U Cubesats from three P-POD deployers.

2013 May 7 - . 02:06 GMT - . Launch Site: Xichang. LV Family: Vega. Launch Vehicle: Vega.
  • Proba-V - . Mass: 158 kg (348 lb). Nation: Europe. Class: Surveillance. Type: Surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: PROBA. Spacecraft: PROBA. USAF Sat Cat: 39159 . COSPAR: 2013-021A. Apogee: 819 km (508 mi). Perigee: 814 km (505 mi). Inclination: 98.7200 deg. Period: 101.21 min. European Space Agency technology satellite; carryied the Vegetation sensor previously used on French SPOT remote sensing satellites..
  • VNREDSAT-1 - . Payload: AstroSat-100. Mass: 115 kg (253 lb). Nation: Vietnam. Class: Surveillance. Type: Surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Myriade. Spacecraft: Myriade. USAF Sat Cat: 39160 . COSPAR: 2013-021B. Apogee: 685 km (425 mi). Perigee: 683 km (424 mi). Inclination: 98.1300 deg. Period: 98.43 min. Remote sensing satellite for the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology..
  • ESTCube-1 - . Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: Estonia. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Cubesat. Spacecraft: Cubesat. USAF Sat Cat: 39161 . COSPAR: 2013-021C. Apogee: 672 km (417 mi). Perigee: 656 km (407 mi). Inclination: 98.1300 deg. Period: 98.03 min. 1U cubesat by the Estonian Student Satellite Program led by the University of Tartu. Space test of the electric solar wind sail. Successful. First Estonian satellite.

2014 April 30 - . 01:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ELV. LV Family: Vega. Launch Vehicle: Vega.
  • KazEOSat-1 - . Mass: 830 kg (1,820 lb). Nation: Kazakhstan. Manufacturer: Surrey. Class: Surveillance. Type: Surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: LEOStar-2. Spacecraft: Leostar-2. USAF Sat Cat: 39731 . COSPAR: 2014-024A. Apogee: 753 km (467 mi). Perigee: 751 km (466 mi). Inclination: 98.5200 deg. Period: 99.86 min. Kazakh high resolution imaging satellite; built by Airbus Defense and Space Toulouse, based on the Astrosat bus and had an imager with 1 metre resolution. The third launch of Europe's Vega light launch vehicle..

2015 February 11 - . 13:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ZLV. LV Family: Vega. Launch Vehicle: Vega.
  • IXV - . Mass: 1,844 kg (4,065 lb). Nation: Europe. Class: Technology. Type: Re-entry test vehicle. Spacecraft Bus: IXV. Spacecraft: IXV. COSPAR: 2015-0U01. Apogee: 416 km (258 mi). Perigee: 76 km (47 mi). Inclination: 5.4000 deg.

    Fourth flight of the Vega booster. The AVUM 4th stage entered a 76 km x 416 km x 5.4 deg orbit at 13:53 GMT. ESA's Intermediate Experimental Vehicle was a reentry vehicle designed to study hypersonic aerothermodynamics. The IXV reentered over the Pacific at 14:44 GMT, with parachute deployment at 15:09 GMT and splashdown at 123 deg W / 3 deg N at about 15:18 GMT.

  • AVUM VV04 - . Nation: Europe. Class: Technology. Type: Technology satellite. COSPAR: 2015-0U01. Apogee: 430 km (260 mi). Perigee: 220 km (130 mi). Inclination: 5.4000 deg.

    The AVUM stage made a second burn at apogee at 14:11 GMT and entered a 220 km x 430 km x 5 deg orbit. A third burn followed at 15:29 GMT as the AVUM passed over Kourou again, to deorbit the stage after one trip around Earth. The AVUM reentered over the Indian Ocean around 16:15 GMT.


2015 June 23 - . 01:51 GMT - . Launch Site: Kourou. Launch Complex: Kourou ZLV. LV Family: Vega. Launch Vehicle: Vega.
  • Sentinel 2A - . Mass: 1,130 kg (2,490 lb). Nation: Europe. Class: Surveillance. Type: Surveillance satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Sentinel. Spacecraft: Sentinel. USAF Sat Cat: 40697 . COSPAR: 2015-028A. Apogee: 790 km (490 mi). Perigee: 788 km (489 mi). Inclination: 98.5700 deg. Period: 100.64 min.

    Visible/infrared band earth observing satellite. The visible camera had a 10 metre resolution and a 290 km swath. Sun synchronous orbit; 1030 GMT local time of the descending node. Built under a EUR 195 million ESA contract as part of the European Global Monitoring for Environment and Security system.



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