by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (ESA) Jan 20, 2012
Final checkout of Europe's new Vega launcher was completed last Friday, marking another milestone towards its maiden flight from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The first Vega launch campaign began in November with the installation of the P80 first stage on the launch pad. The two solid-propellant second and third stages were added to the vehicle, followed by the AVUM - Attitude and Vernier Upper Module - liquid-propellant fourth stage.
All four stages have undergone final acceptance, including the testing of the avionics, guidance, telemetry, propulsion, separation pyrotechnics and safety systems.
These steps culminated on 13 January with Vega's 'synthesis control checks', where all systems were put into launch mode for the vehicle's final acceptance. This included pressurising the AVUM propulsion systems that actuate the thruster valves.
The rocket's elements were switched on from the control bench to simulate the launch countdown. The onboard software then took over and simulated the different stages of a flight. The interfaces between the vehicle and the control bench were also tested.
The test review confirmed that everything ran as expected and that the launcher is ready for flight.
The first launch, VV01, is targeted for 9 February. It will carry nine satellites into orbit: the Italian space agency's LARES and ALMASat-1, together with seven CubeSats from European universities.
This mission aims to qualify the Vega launch system, including the vehicle, its launch infrastructure and operations, from the launch campaign to payload separation and disposal of the upper module.
A flexible system
In particular, it offers configurations able to handle payloads ranging from a single satellite up to one main satellite plus six microsatellites.
Vega is compatible with payload masses ranging from 300 kg to 2500 kg, depending on the type and altitude of the orbit required by the customers. The benchmark is for 1500 kg into a 700 km-altitude polar orbit.
More information on Vega and updates are now available on the new launch website here.
Vega at ESA
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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Canaveral has busy 2012 launch schedule
Cape Canaveral, Fla. (UPI) Jan 11, 2012
The director of Florida's Cape Canaveral rocket range says a busy 2012 launch schedule is proof there's life after the end of NASA's shuttle program. A dozen launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are set for the coming months, including missions critical to the International Space Station, Florida Today reported Wednesday. "We are alive and well, and we are in business h ... read more
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