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Successful lift-off of the Vega rocket, the last European rocket to be launched in 2023

Successful lift-off of the Vega rocket, the last European rocket to be launched in 2023

A lightweight Vega rocket was successfully launched on Sunday from the Kourou Space Center in Guyana, carrying two Earth observation satellites and ten other small satellites. It lifted off from the launch pad at 10:36 pm (5:36 am on Monday in Switzerland).

This Vega family’s 23rd mission since the first liftoff in 2012 was initially scheduled to take place on Friday, October 6, but the launch was canceled at the last minute, due to a measurement just above maximum during the final countdown.

On Sunday, the 1.2-ton payload safely departed into space to reach various orbits. Vega will make a complete orbit around Earth in order to put all the satellites on board, and its final stage, Avum, will be re-ignited five times in total to meet the needs of the mission.

The two main occupants are Theos-2, a high-resolution optical observation satellite launched for the Thai Geospatial Information and Space Technology Development Agency, and Formosat-7R/Triton, a science satellite of the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA) equipped with a system on which backscattering signals will be placed. Sea surface to prevent hurricanes in sun-synchronous orbit.

A complicated year for the European Space Agency

Ten other small satellites will be placed in low orbit by the light rocket under the management of the Italian project.

The third and final launch from the Kourou spaceport in 2023, this snapshot concludes a complex year for space Europe, which combines the end of Ariane 5’s run in July, delays to Ariane 6’s operation and the suspension of the Vega-C program since then. Its first commercial flight in December 2022 failed.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) announced a week ago that the rocket developed by Italian industrialist Avio, and anchored to the ground, will not fly again before the last quarter of 2024.

Between now and Ariane 6’s entry into service, scheduled for 2024, the Europeans only have to launch a Vega rocket, a predecessor to Vega-C that was not affected by problems with the second stage of the light launcher. This shot will take place in the second quarter of 2024.