Italian Space Agency Shifts Satellite Launch From Vega-C to SpaceX Falcon 9

COSMO SkyMed satellite (Credit: ASI)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Citing delays with Europe’s new Vega-C rocket, two Vega booster failures and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) has shifted the launch of the second COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG-2) Earth observation satellite to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

“The delays, postponing the Vega-C Maiden Flight to Q1 2022, with a consequent tight schedule of launches in 2022, made the  launch period of CSG-2 no longer compatible with the needs of the COSMO Mission. Since Arianespace backlog was already full on Soyuz and Ariane systems in 2021, it was not possible to have a European back-up solution compliant with the CSG-2 schedule, thus an alternative solution with the US provider SpaceX has been adopted allowing to keep the CSG-2 launch within the current year,” ASI said on its website.

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Arianespace’s 19th Vega Mission to Orbit Airbus Defence and Space’s Pléiades Neo 4 Earth Observation Satellite, 4 Scientific Auxiliary Spacecraft

Vega launches on April 28, 2021. (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Arianespace’s upcoming Vega launch, scheduled for August 16, 2021, will orbit Pléiades Neo 4, the second very high-resolution satellite part of the new Airbus Defence and Space’s Earth Observation constellation.
  • Vega Flight 19 (VV19) will also deploy four scientific spacecraft: three to the benefit of the European Space Agency (ESA) and one for the start-up Unseenlabs.

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On Monday, August 16, 2021 at 10:47 pm local time (01:47 am (UTC) on Tuesday, August 17), Arianespace’s second Vega mission of the year will lift off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, with the optical observation satellite Pléiades Neo 4 and four auxiliary passengers.

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Launch 2020: Europe’s Ambitions Frustrated by Pandemic, Booster Failure

The Ariane 5 for Flight VA251 departs the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone with its EUTELSAT KONNECT and GSAT-30 satellite passengers. (Credit: Arianespace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Last year was a tough one for Europe in terms of launches. The COVID-19 pandemic closed the Guiana Space Centre for extended periods. And the most troubled of the three rockets launched from the spaceport had another bad day.

Despite the problems, there were seven launches from French Guiana in 2020, with six successes and one failure. Five of the flights involved European rockets, and two others were Russian Soyuz boosters.

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Investigation Concludes Crossed Wires Caused Loss of Vega Booster, Satellites

Vega takes off on its 17th flight on Nov. 16, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace webcast)

PARIS, 17 December 2020 — On Tuesday, November 17, Arianespace announced the loss of the Vega VV17 mission, which was carrying two payloads, SEOSAT-Ingenio, an Earth-science observation satellite for the European Space Agency (ESA), on behalf of Spain’s Center for Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), and TARANIS for France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).

The first three stages functioned nominally until the ignition of the AVUM upper stage, eight minutes after liftoff. At that time, a degraded trajectory was detected, followed by a loss of control of the vehicle and the subsequent loss of the mission.

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Telespazio and ALTEC Sign Contract with ESA for Ground Segment of Space Rider Mission

Vega payload carriers and Space Rider (Credit: ESA)

ROME, 9 December 2020 (Telespazio PR) — ALTEC and Telespazio today signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to manage the ground segment and operations for the Space Rider mission.

Space Rider is an unmanned space vehicle with a payload capacity of about 600 kg, able to carry out scientific and technological experiments in microgravity conditions, while orbiting at an altitude of about 400 km.

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