Ready for liftoff: Vega is authorized for its May 3 flight from the Spaceport
The second Vega mission from French Guiana has been given its “green light” for liftoff tomorrow night, following completion of the launch readiness review earlier today at the Spaceport.
This assessment – held prior to each flight of an Arianespace launcher family member – confirmed that the lightweight vehicle and its multi-passenger payload are flight-ready, along with the Spaceport’s infrastructure and the network of downrange tracking stations.
The VV02 mission’s three satellite passengers are encapsulated in the Vega payload fairing, which is shown in an aerial photo of the Spaceport’s SLV launch site (photo at left) and illustrated by the cutaway drawing at right.
The mission is designated VV02 in Arianespace’s numbering system, and it will be performed from the Spaceport’s SLV launch site – where the Vega was assembled and now stands in a flight-ready configuration, protected by a mobile gantry that will be withdrawn prior to liftoff.
All is set for a May 3 launch beginning precisely at 11:06:31 p.m., local time at the Spaceport in French Guiana, with the flight lasting 2 hours, 48 seconds from liftoff to separation of the final spacecraft in its payload “stack” – which is composed of the Proba-V, VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1 satellites.
Proba-V – produced by prime contractor QinetiQ Space Belgium for the European Space Agency – is to be deployed first in the flight sequence, injected from its position atop Vega’s VESPA (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) dispenser system.
It will be followed by release of the two spacecraft riding inside the VESPA dispenser: VNREDSat-1, which was manufactured by Astrium on behalf of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST); and the ESTCube-1 cubesat that was built by a collaboration of students from Tartu University, Estonian Aviation Academy, Tallinn University of Technology and University of Life Sciences – and developed in conjunction with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the German Space Center (DLR).
Tomorrow’s Vega launch is part of multiple missions in the European Space Agency’s VERTA (Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment) program, which is to demonstrate the launch system’s capabilities in orbiting small- to medium-sized satellites. Vega was developed in a European program led by Italy’s ASI space agency and industrial prime contractor ELV SpA.
With Vega as a member of Arianespace’s launcher family, the company is able to launch payloads of all sizes – operating this lightweight vehicle along with the medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5 in side-by-side operations from the Spaceport.