Arianespace Snags Vega and Vega C Launch Contracts

Vega lifts off with IXV test vehicle. (Credit: ESA)

During the Paris Air Show this week, Arianespace announced new launch contracts for the existing Vega and in-development Vega C boosters.

Vega will launch the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) PRISMA (PRecursore IperSpettrale della Missione Applicativa) satellite in 2018 from the Guiana Space Center in South America.

“PRISMA is an Earth observation satellite fitted with an innovative electro-optical instrument, combining a hyperspectral sensor with a medium-resolution panchromatic camera,” Arianespace said in a press statement.

“This type of combined instrument offers the advantages of conventional observation, based on the recognition of the geometric characteristics of a scene, coupled with the ability to determine the chemical and physical characteristics of the objects present in the scene, using the hyperspectral sensors,” the company added.

PRISMA was built by OHB Italia and hosts a payload supplied by Leonardo Airborne and Space Systems. Vega will place the spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 615 km.

“We are extremely proud to continue our ongoing support for the European space industry through this Earth observation mission that will provide major applications to protect both our planet and national security,” Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Israël said.

“We are very honored by this expression of trust from OHB Italia, on behalf of the Italian ASI space agency. This contract also confirms the success of our Vega lightweight launcher, which continues to set the standard in its class, launch after launch,” he added.

Airbus Defence and Space signed a contract for two Vega C launches that will orbit four next generation of very-high-resolution optical observation satellites beginning in mid-2020.

“By delivering images of each point on the globe several times a day, these extremely-agile optical satellites will keep a close watch on our constantly-changing planet,” Arianespace said in a press release.

“We fully trust Arianespace to orbit our new constellation, which will bolster our service offering and expand our range of services,” said François Lombard, head of the Intelligence Business Cluster at Airbus Defence and Space. “Along with a new-generation ground segment offering multi-mission and massive image processing capacity, our constellation will greatly expand access to higher-precision and more detailed images of Earth.”

Vega C is an upgraded version of the Vega booster. The first flight is scheduled for mid-2019.