Launchapalooza: 26 New Boosters Debuting Worldwide

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the first seven months of the year, five new satellite launch vehicles from Europe, China, Russia and South Korea flew successfully for the first time. As impressive as that is, it was a mere opening act to a busy period that could see at least 20 additional launchers debut around the world.

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Following the Success of the Inaugural flight, Arianespace to Start Operations of Vega C with Seven Launchers Already Sold

Vega-C lifts off on its maiden flight on July 13, 2022. (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Following the success of its inaugural flight, Vega C will now begin its operational phase, under the responsibility of Arianespace, with a target of at least four launches per year and a fast-growing backlog that already includes 7 launches and 10 auxiliary payloads.
  • Vega C is an upgrade to the Vega launcher and can better answer institutional and commercial customers’ needs. Thanks to its increased capabilities, Vega C will serve the burgeoning Earth observation market as well as long-term institutional and commercial needs.
  • The first commercial launch of Vega C is scheduled in November 2022. The flight, designated VV22, will deliver Pléiades Neo 5 and 6, a pair of satellites wholly funded, manufactured and operated by Airbus.

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On Wednesday, July 13 at 10:13 am local time in Kourou, French Guiana, the first Vega C, the new European launcher designed and manufactured by AVIO, was successfully launched under the supervision of ESA from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (South America).

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Avio Signs “Next-Gen EU” Contracts Funded with 340 Million Euros at Completion for New Green Liquid Propulsion Launchers

ROME (Avio PR) – The first two contracts of Italy’s implementation of the “Next Gen EU” initiatives for Space were awarded to Avio. In the past few months, the Italian Government had decided to invest around 340M€ [USD $346.3 million] to improve the technological capability of the Italian industry for “Access to Space”, entrusting the European Space Agency (ESA) as the Contracting Authority with the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Italian Space Agency and the Ministry of Innovation & Digital Transformation. The goal is to leverage existing capabilities established in Italy since the early 2000s through the Vega, Vega C and Vega E programs to develop next generation propulsion technologies and launch system architectures.

The contracts were signed at the headquarters of the Ministry of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition in Rome, in presence of Minister Vittorio Colao, ESA Launchers’ Director Daniel Neuenschwander and Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo.

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ArianeGroup Selected for Two European Commission Calls for Projects to Speed Up the Development of Europe’s First Reusable and Eco-friendly Launchers

ArianeGroup has been selected by the European Commission to run two major projects in its Horizon Europe research framework program.

  • The SALTO project will facilitate the first flight tests of the Themis reusable stage demonstrator in Kiruna, Sweden.
  • The ENLIGHTEN project will speed up the development and introduction of reusable engine technologies.
  • Each project is built on the joint expertise of ArianeGroup, industry, research institutes and start-ups, to accelerate Europe’s transition to increasingly innovative, competitive and eco-friendly access to space.

ISSY-LES-MOULINEAUX, France (ArianeGroup PR) — Following the call for projects issued by the European Commission as part of its Horizon Europe program designed to encourage and accelerate innovation, ArianeGroup has been given responsibility for two particularly ambitious projects to speed up the development of reusable, ecofriendly European launchers. ArianeGroup will be heading the SALTO and ENLIGHTEN projects, bringing together numerous academic and industrial partners, including innovative start-ups.

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Europe’s Hera Asteroid Mission’s Takes a Major Step

Hera spacecraft propulsion module (Credit: OHB)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A key element of ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence has left the facilities of its manufacturer OHB in Bremen – a major step in preparation for its eventual odyssey to the Didymos asteroid system.

The mission’s Propulsion Module flight model, seen here, has been delivered to Avio, southeast of Rome, where propellant tanks, thrusters and associated pipes and valves will be integrated with it. The fully equipped Propulsion Module is what will take Hera on its 26-month trek through deep space to the main Didymos asteroid and its smaller Dimorphos companion.

On 26 September this year Dimorphos will become the very first Solar System body to have its orbit altered by human action in a measurable way, when NASA’s DART spacecraft impacts with it. When Hera arrives at the asteroid in December 2026 the spacecraft will perform a detailed post-crash investigation, assessing the mass and make-up of Dimorphos and measuring the crater left by DART’s impact, helping to validate kinetic impact as a workable planetary defence method.

Meanwhile Hera’s other half, the Core Module, is also taking shape at OHB in Bremen. The Core Module will carry all the mission’s scientific instruments as well as on-board computer and other subsystems. The spacecraft will be completed when these two halves are eventually joined together, ahead of Hera’s planned launch in October 2024.

ESA-developed P120C Solid Rocket Motor Enters Production

The P120C full-scale model solid rocket motor for Ariane 6 and Vega-C, filled with 142 tonnes of inert propellant, is prepared for further integration with other structures. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Ariane 6 and Vega-C will soon join the family of launch vehicles operating from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to guarantee more opportunities for Europe to reach space. The P120C motor, which will power both Ariane 6 and Vega-C, will soon come into operations with the Vega-C inaugural flight.

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Pre-shipment Review Held on LARES2 Platform for First Vega C Launch

LARES2 satellite undergoing pre-shipment inspection. (Credit: ASI)

The satellite, installed on the LARES System platform, is preparing to leave Italy to reach the European base in French Guiana where, on board the inaugural flight of the ESA Vega C launcher, it will be put into orbit.

MILAN, Italy (Italian Space Agency PR) — On 23 and 24 March 2022, the Pre-Shipment Review was held at the OHB Italia headquarters in Milan , during which the Italian Space Agency checked the status of the LARES2 System and authorized its shipment to the site launch, the European spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana.

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ESA Contract to Advance Vega-C Competitiveness

Vega configurations (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Vega-C launch vehicle will fly in the second quarter of 2022 offering more performance to all orbits and extended mission flexibility at a similar cost to the current Vega. A new contract aims to widen these mission capabilities to capture new opportunities and satisfy emerging market needs to 2027.

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New Symphonie Consortium Wins Concept Study for European Commission to Shape Future Global Connectivity by Satellite

The European consortium led by UNSEENLABS and EUROCONSULT has won a concept study for the European Commission aiming to leverage disruptive ideas for an innovative European broadband constellation.

PARIS WASHINGTON D.C., MONTREAL, YOKOHAMA, SYDNEY, December 9th 2021 (New Symphonie PR) – New Symphonie, the recently established consortium of 22 European companies, has won the European Commission call for tenders entitled “New Space solutions for long-term availability of reliable, secure, cost-effective space-based connectivity”.

Selected for its exceptional innovation and familiarity with leading-edge technologies, the consortium led by UNSEENLABS and EUROCONSULT will be awarded a six month study contract for a total amount of 1.4m euros. Through the study, the consortium members will investigate and recommend to the European Commission the most optimal infrastructure for secure connectivity markets. The study aims at defining the secure connectivity requirements that could be addressed by a European multi-orbit satellite system to be conceptually designed with innovative technologies for an attractive business plan.  

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Latest Vega Launch Paves Way for Vega-C

Launch of Vega VV20 on 16 November 2021, from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying three CERES Earth observation satellites. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — Arianespace announced liftoff of Vega’s twentieth flight from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 9:27 GMT (10:27 CET; 06:27 local time). Vega delivered three CERES payloads for the French Ministry of the Armed Forces.

Each payload is equipped with high-performance sensors. Flying in formation in low Earth orbit, they will offer all-weather observation, daily revisit frequency, and can collect data enabling the characterisation and location of transmitters.

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Arianespace’s Vega Launcher Successfully Orbits Three CERES Satellites

Launch of Vega VV20 on 16 November 2021, from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying three CERES Earth observation satellites. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)
  • On November 16, Arianespace successfully carried out its 20th Vega launch (VV20), its 12th launch of the year and the third with the Vega light launcher. It was also the 300th launch by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center.
  • The mission orbited three CERES satellites, developed for the French armed forces with French defense procurement agency DGA as contracting authority and with the assistance of the French space agency CNES.
  • This latest mission by Vega once again shows Arianespace’s ability to support the most innovative satellite-based solutions from institutional customers.

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On Tuesday, November 16 at 6:27 am local time in Kourou, French Guiana, Arianespace successfully launched three CERES military intelligence satellites from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (South America).

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ESA Advances Vega Rocket Evolution Beyond 2025

The 3D-printed thrust chamber assembly of the methane-fuelled M10 rocket engine passed its first series of hot firing tests at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in the USA during February 2020. The M10 engine will power the upper stage of future Vega evolutions from 2025. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

FRASCATI, Italy (ESA PR) — ESA will further increase the competitiveness and environmental sustainability of Europe’s Vega launch system beyond 2025 through a contract signed with Avio in Italy.

Vega operates from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to launch light satellites to one or multiple orbits in a single launch. This contract takes Vega a step further and marks the start of a new phase in preparation of a new Vega launch vehicle called Vega-E, which will make extensive use of Vega-C building blocks.

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Avio Purchases 10 Additional Ukrainian Engines for Vega Launcher’s Upper Stage

Vega launches on April 28, 2021. (Credit: Arianespace)

DNIPRO, Ukraine (Yuzhnoye PR) — Yuzhnoye Design Office and the Italian company Avio have reached an agreement on the additional purchase of 10 Ukrainian-made engines for the Vega launch vehicle for a total of almost 6 million euros [$7.2 million]. 

The Italian side reaffirmed its readiness to expand cooperation on April 28. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the agreement reached by the joint efforts of representatives of the Ukrainian rocket and space industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. 

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Arianespace Offers a Ticket into Space to a Startup or Lab

  • Arianespace is launching a contest for satellite projects by space technology startups, labs or universities, in conjunction with the Viva Technology 2021 (VivaTech) innovation show.
  • The winner will get a free launch of their satellite on an Arianespace rideshare mission.
  • The main selection criterion will be the satellite’s mission, which should improve life on Earth or advance human knowledge.

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace, the European launch services company, is Arianespace, the European launch services company, is organizing a contest in conjunction with the VivaTech international innovation show. First prize will be a spot on a rideshare mission operated by Arianespace, to orbit the winning cubesat-sized satellite.

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Arianespace Signs Long-term Supply Agreement with Avio for 10 Additional Vega C Launchers

Artist’s impression of Vega-C launcher in flight. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

ROME (Arianespace PR) — During the recent meeting in Rome between Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, and Giancarlo Giorgetti, Italian Minister of Economic Development, Arianespace announced the signature of an agreement with Avio to start production of 10 new Vega C launch vehicles.

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