Vega C rocket fails during second launch attempt

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Vega-C rocket lifts off from its launch pad at the Kourou space base, French Guiana, Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

The Vega-C rocket lifts off from its launch pad at the Kourou space base in French Guiana on December 21, 2022.
Photograph🇧🇷 JM Guillon 🇧🇷SHOVEL🇧🇷

Arianespace’s mid-range Vega-C rocket it failed to reach orbit on its second mission, resulting in the destruction of the two satellites on board.

The rocket, developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), built by the Italian company Avio, and operated by Arianespace, took off on Tuesday at 20:47 ET from the Kourou space base in French Guiana, carrying the Neo 5 and Neo 6 satellites for Airbus’ Pleiades Neo Earth image constellation.

The rocket’s first stage successfully separated from the second stage, but problems arose shortly afterwards. About two minutes and 27 seconds after liftoff, the second stage of the rocket, called Zefiro 40, experienced a catastrophic anomaly, Arianespace announced on twitter.

“Following nominal ignition of the second stage engine (Zefiro 40), about 144 seconds after takeoff, a decrease in pressure was observed leading to the premature end of the mission,” Arianespace wrote in a statement. declaration🇧🇷

“After this low pressure, we observed trajectory deviation and very strong anomalies, so unfortunately we can say that the mission is lost,” said Stéphane Israël, Executive Director of Arianespace, in the launch webcast, as reported by SpaceNews. In accordance with standard procedures, the rocket was ordered to self-destruct.

The onboard satellites were to complete Airbus’ six-satellite constellation, providing high-resolution images of Earth.

Arianespace and the ESA have appointed an independent commission of inquiry to look into why the rocket failed and determine what needs to be done before Vega-C can resume flights, according to an Arianespace declaration🇧🇷

Vega-C’s launch was originally scheduled for November 24, but the mission was delayed due to faulty equipment in the payload fairing separation system. The launch system hasn’t had the best record, with the latest incident marking the third time a Vega rocket has suffered a mission failure in the last eight liftoffs. according to the BBC. In November 2020, a Vega rocket failed eight minutes into the mission, the result of human error.

More about this story: Vega rocket failure apparently caused by human error

It’s a disappointing sequel to Vega-C’s debut this summer🇧🇷 On July 13, Vega-C successfully completed its maiden flight, carrying the Italian Space Agency’s LARES-2 into orbit as its main payload. The Vega-C is a more powerful successor to the Vega launcher, which was in operation for 10 years. The Vega-C is equipped with a more powerful first and second stage, along with an improved rekindled upper stage.

Tuesday’s mission marked the first time Vega-C has carried a commercial payload, so it’s unfortunate that the mission failed. ESA is counting on Vega-C to bring European payloads into orbit and maintain its presence in the growing space industry by virtue of having its own launch vehicle.

ESA is also preparing to launch Ariane 6, the next-generation launcher that will follow Ariane 5. Ariane 6 was originally scheduled to launch in 2020 but has suffered from several delays and is now scheduled to fly in 2023. “With Vega-C and Ariane 6, Europe will have a flexible and independent solution for a rapidly changing launch market”, said Daniel Neuenschwande, Director of Space Transport at ESA, in a declaration in June.

Hopefully, ESA can bounce back from the mission failure and get Vega-C back on track.

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