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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Ariane 6, Vega-C, Microlaunchers: ESA Looks to Full Range of Launch Options for European Institutional Missions

Artist’s view of Ariane 6 and Vega-C. (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher today underscored the Agency’s determination to ensure that ESA’s work in space is not derailed by the tragic events in Ukraine. Mr Aschbacher stresses that work continues to assess the impact on each ongoing programme, including on missions affected by Roscosmos’ withdrawal of Soyuz launch operations from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

In addition, ESA is preparing proposals that, if endorsed by its Member States, will further support European microlauncher services to complement the Ariane and Vega programmes, which form the backbone of Europe’s space transportation capability.

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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 Condemns Russia’s Ukraine Invasion, Says Joint ExoMars Launch “Very Unlikely” This Year

PARIS (ESA PR) — We deplore the human casualties and tragic consequences of the war in Ukraine. We are giving absolute priority to taking proper decisions, not only for the sake of our workforce involved in the programmes, but in full respect of our European values, which have always fundamentally shaped our approach to international cooperation.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation governed by its 22 Member States and we have built up a strong network of international cooperation over the past decades, which serves the European and global space community through its very successful programmes.

We are fully implementing sanctions imposed on Russia by our Member States. We are assessing the consequences on each of our ongoing programmes conducted in cooperation with the Russian state space agency Roscosmos and align our decisions to the decisions of our Member States in close coordination with industrial and international partners (in particular with NASA on the International Space Station).

Regarding the Soyuz launch campaign from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, we take note of the Roscosmos decision to withdraw its workforce from Kourou. We will consequently assess for each European institutional payload under our responsibility the appropriate launch service based notably on launch systems currently in operation and the upcoming Vega-C and Ariane 6 launchers.

Regarding the ExoMars programme continuation, the sanctions and the wider context make a launch in 2022 very unlikely. ESA’s Director General will analyse all the options and prepare a formal decision on the way forward by ESA Member States.

ESA continues to monitor the situation in close contact with its Members States.

Arianespace to Launch Microcarb on Vega C

Vega rocket in flight (Credit: Arianespace)
  • Microcarb is a science satellite that will trace CO2 sinks and sources on a global scale.
  • The requested performance for this launch planned in 2023 is 190kg on a sun-synchronous orbit at 650km.

EVRY-COURCOURONNES, France, January 18, 2022 (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has been awarded a launch contract by ESA, on behalf of the European Commission, to launch Microcarb in 2023 on Vega C. Microcarb is a 190kg satellite developed by CNES that will be delivered into a sun-synchronous orbit, 650km above the Earth.

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Arianespace to Launch ESA’s FLEX & ALTIUS Earth Observation Satellites Using Vega C

Vega rocket in flight (Credit: Arianespace)
  • FLEX is developed within ESA’s Future Earth Observation Programme, and will be able to measure photosynthetic activity from space.
  • ALTIUS is developed within ESA’s Earth Watch Programme, and aims to overwatch ozone and other trace gases in the upper atmosphere, thus supporting weather forecasting and monitor long-term climate evolutions.
  • Both those missions represent Arianespace additional contribution to ESA’s and Europe’s engagement regarding climate change issues and challenges.

EVRY-COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace and the European Space Agency ESA have signed a contract to secure the launch of FLEX and ALTIUS on Vega C, from Europe’s Spaceport mid-2025.

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Arianespace to Launch PLATiNO 1 & 2 on Vega and Vega C

Vega rocket in flight (Credit: Arianespace)
  • PLATiNO 1 and 2 are Earth observation satellites that will be launched on a Sun-synchronous orbit.
  • Both small satellites are due to be launched between 2022 and 2024.
  • PLATiNO is an all-electric multi-purpose small satellite platform developed in Italy, suitable for a wide range of applications (e.g. Optical, SAR, Telecom, etc.)

Évry-Courcouronnes, France, January 6, 2022 (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has been awarded a launch contract by SITAEL, with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) as the final customer, to orbit PLATiNO 1 & 2 satellites, between 2022 and 2024 on Vega and Vega C. PLATiNO 1 and 2 are Earth observation small satellites operating on Sun-synchronous orbits. PLATiNO 1 will embark a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), operating in the X band, while PLATiNO 2 will carry an optical thermal instrument.

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Italy and France Agree to Deepen Cooperation on Launch Vehicles & Other Areas

ROME November 26, 2021 (Italian Space Agency PR) — The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, and the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, signed the “Treaty for Enhanced Bilateral Cooperation” at the Quirinale, in the presence of the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and of the Italian and French delegations.

The agreement known as the Quirinal Treaty also gives specific attention to space cooperation between Italy and France, as stated in article 7. [see below]

On the sidelines of the bilateral agreement, an Italian-French Agreement on launchers was also signed. Vittorio Colao, Minister for Technology Innovation and Digital Transition, and Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery, agreed on the conclusions of the high level group on space matters they initiated last September.

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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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ESA Council Agrees Resolution on Ariane 6 and Vega-C Exploitation and Future Space Transportation

Artist’s view of the European launcher family. Shown from left to right: Ariane 5, Vega, the two-booster Ariane 6 (A62), Vega-C, the four-booster Ariane 6 (A64). (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA Member States have agreed upon the boundary conditions for Europe’s upcoming exploitation of Ariane 6 and Vega-C and request ESA to propose a roadmap for new and innovative space transportation solutions for the next decade and a framework for associated short cycle demonstrations.

The Resolution agreed upon by ESA Member States mid-August sets the conditions for the first three years of stabilised exploitation of Europe’s new launch vehicles, Ariane 6 and Vega-C at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. 

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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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ESA Awards Space Transportation Study Contracts with ArianeGroup, Avio & Rocket Factory Augsburg

RFA One launcher in flight (Credit: Rocket Factory)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Space transportation technologies are intrinsically complex, some needing long development cycles of up to a decade. For this reason, ESA is seeking early insights into long-term trends and potential evolutions in all application domains taking into account the needs of future programmes currently under preparation.

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ArianeGroup, CNES Sign Agreement on Prometheus Testing

Prometheus rocket engine (Credit: ArianeGroup Holding)

PARIS, January 14, 2021 (ArianeGroup PR) — Following the visit to the ArianeGroup site in Vernon by President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, and Minister for Overseas France Sébastien Lecornu, ArianeGroup CEO André-Hubert Roussel and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall signed an agreement preparatory to the testing of the new Prometheus rocket engine at the Vernon site in Normandy.

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ESA Signs Contracts for Reusable Space Rider up to Maiden Flight

Space Rider aims to provide Europe with an affordable, independent, reusable end-to-end integrated space transportation system for routine access and return from low orbit. It will be used to transport payloads for an array of applications, orbit altitudes and inclinations. (Credit: ESA-Jacky Huart)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has given industry the go-ahead to build Space Rider space and ground segments.

Launched on a Vega-C rocket, this spacecraft will serve as an uncrewed robotic laboratory in low Earth orbit, returning to Earth with its payloads and being reused on future missions.

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