Vega Launch Fails

Vega launch vehicle (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2015)

A Vega rocket launched from French Guiana failed to orbit the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) FalconEye1 optical Earth observation satellite on Wednesday after it suffered an anomaly in its second stage, Arianespace announced.

Vega’s first stage appeared to fire normally and the payload shroud separated. The second stage might not have ignited, resulting in the booster falling into the sea.

Vega was to have placed FalconEye1 into a sun-syncrhonous orbit 57 minutes after liftoff. The satellite was the first of two FalconEye spacecraft that were to have provided imagery to UAE’s armed forces and the commercial market.

Airbus Defence and Space was the prime contractor for the satellite with Thales Alenia Space as co-prime.

It was the first failure in 15 attempts for Europe’s four-stage solid fuel booster, which is designed to launch smaller payloads.