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Avio CEO guarantees Vega’s speedy return to flight as CNES plots substitute satellite tv for pc

VALLETTA, Malta — The top of Italian rocket producer Avio assured clients Nov. 19 that the corporate was working arduous to return Vega to service following the rocket’s second failure in its final three launches.  

In a video assertion, Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo mentioned that in preliminary investigation into Vega’s Nov. 16 failure had recognized a problem with the combination of the electromechanical actuation system of the fourth stage nozzle. Arianespace, which markets and operates the Vega rocket, mentioned earlier this week that telemetry and manufacturing documentation level to the wrong set up of cables within the rocket’s thrust vector management system. 

Ranzo assured clients and traders that Vega can be returned to service quickly.

“What I can say about this occasion is that it’s a very unlucky one, for which I take the chance to precise my deepest apologies to the shoppers,” mentioned Ranzo. “However one which we imagine to be able to constrain, determine and repair fairly quickly. We’ll work within the subsequent few weeks very intensively as a way to restore the credibility of the launcher as quickly as we will.”  

Vega flew 14 consecutive profitable missions previous to its first failure in July 2019 whereas carrying an imaging satellite tv for pc for the United Arab Emirates. That failure was blamed on structural failure within the rocket’s solid-fuel second stage. Vega efficiently returned to flight Sept. 2, carrying 53 smallsats on a devoted rideshare mission. 

The Vega flight VV17 rocket on the launchpad on the Guiana House Centre prior liftoff on its failed Nov. 16 launch. Credit score: ESA-CNES-Arianespace 

Vega flight VV17 was carrying two European analysis satellites when it failed eight minutes after lifting off Nov. 17 from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. 

The 750-kilogram SEOSAT-Ingenio, billed as Spain’s first Earth commentary satellite tv for pc, was constructed by Airbus Defence and House to supply wide-field imagery for civil purposes. The 175-kilogram TARANIS, or Instrument for the Evaluation of RAdiation from lightNIng and Sprites, was constructed by the French house company CNES to review electromagnetic phenomena within the higher ambiance created by thunderstorms.

SEOSAT-Ingenio was funded by Spain’s Centre for the Growth of Industrial Expertise (CDTI) and managed by the European House Company as a third-party mission, a designation given to nationwide missions managed by ESA. The 750-kilogram Earth commentary satellite tv for pc carried an optical payload with a 2.5-meter decision and was supposed to serve all kinds of civil purposes together with cartography, city growth and water administration.

CDTI officers mentioned that though shedding SEOSAT-Ingenio is disappointing, the satellite tv for pc mission completed financial growth objectives nicely earlier than its ill-fated launch. The SEOSAT-Ingenio program has served as a catalyst for Spain’s house trade, which final week secured its first lead function on a Copernicus mission with the awarding of a €380 million prime contract to Madrid-based Airbus Protection and House Spain for the Land Floor Temperature Monitoring (LSTM) mission. LSTM is just the third ESA mission to be led by Airbus in Madrid after SEOSAT-Ingenio and the Cheops house telescope that launched final December.

As SEOSat-Ingenio was anticipated to be Spain’s first Earth commentary satellite tv for pc providing a devoted useful resource to the nation, the necessity nonetheless exists. Nevertheless, in accordance with Dominique Gillieron, ESA Earth Explorers program supervisor, obsolescence and an absence of spare flight hardware would make constructing a replica of the satellite tv for pc troublesome. Gillieron mentioned that ESA is working with Spain to discover potential substitutes for the performance of SEOSat-Ingenio.


CNES mentioned Nov. 20 that it intends to construct a second TARANIS  satellite tv for pc and has fashioned a activity drive that has till late January to develop a proposal for a TARANIS 2 mission. 

The duty drive, CNES mentioned in an announcement, “will outline a mission matching the science objectives of Taranis whereas looking for to chop prices and lead instances, and can current its consolidated findings to the CNES Government Committee finish January 2021 after a standing report in mid-December 2020.”


Previous to the failure, the following mission on Vega’s manifest was an early 2021 mission carrying the Pléiades-Neo 1 imaging satellite tv for pc and a set of smallsat secondary payloads, together with the Norwegian House Company’s NorSat-Three ship-detecting microsatellite and Eutelsat’s ELO Alpha cubesat.

Eutelsat declined to touch upon Vega’s failure however mentioned any delay within the launch of ELO Alpha wouldn’t have an effect on the corporate’s deliberate 25-satellite Eutelsat LEO for Objects constellation. “Our ELO 1 satellite tv for pc, scheduled for launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, can have comparable testing capabilities as ELO Alpha, sustaining our general schedule for the ELO mission” mentioned Eutelsat spokeswoman Jessica Whyte. ELO is meant to serve the so-called Web of Issues market by offering low-data-rate connectivity to distant units. 

Jon Harr, the Norwegian House Company’s director of enterprise growth and nationwide house infrastructure, advised SpaceNews he’s assured Vega will likely be returned to flight with minimal delay. He mentioned it wouldn’t be obligatory to think about one other launch alternative for NorSat-Three except Vega was grounded for six months to a yr.  

Pléiades-Neo 1 is one among two Pléiades-Neo satellites Airbus plans to launch on Vega rockets within the first half of 2021. Airbus plans to finish the four-satellite optical Earth commentary constellation in 2022 by launching Pléiades-Neo Three and four on a single Vega C, Avio’s next-generation launcher. Vega C had been scheduled to debut this yr however Avio mentioned in September that it was delaying the rocket’s maiden flight to mid-2021 in order that it may atone for Vega missions delayed by final yr’s failure.  

Vega spent 14 months out of service following its July 2019 failure. Its September return to flight adopted months of further delay as a result of this spring’s momentary closure of the Kourou spaceport and a run of dangerous climate. 

SpaceNews Senior Workers Author Jeff Foust contributed to this story from Washington.

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