[Lanceurs] The first flight for the Vega C is imminent

Transfer the P120 engine to the ZLV Vega launch zone. Credit: CNES / ESA / Arianespace / CSG Video Optics / JM Guillon

A new life is starting for the European light launcher Vega. In early July, it will make its maiden voyage from Guyana in its new version Vega c, For the purpose of increasing the performance of a development, especially by allowing it to carry larger payloads, with a maximum take-off weight of 2.2 tons, up from 1.5 tons in the previous version. The Vega C achieves flexibility, enabling Earth observation satellites into low orbit and multiple launches of microsatellites. It will also make it possible to put the reusable space shuttle Space Rider into orbit by 2024. The development of the new launcher aims to reduce its recurring costs for industrial optimization and to limit production exposure to nine European sources. To achieve this performance, several changes have been made. The volume and diameter of the first two steps are increased for a more powerful engine.

1Of The Vega C Stage is powered by a P120C that contains 140 tons of propellant. This is the same engine as the Ariane 6’s thruster, depending on the version Ariane 6 will have 2 or 4 copies.

Eric Robert, P120C technology specialist

Adaptive advantage

CNES is heavily involved in preparations for the arrival of this new launcher. Together with CSG, the Ground Sub-Directorate manages the adaptation of CSG’s measurement resources for processing VEGA-C telemetry in real time and in delayed time. For safety reasons, increasing engine power also makes it necessary to move away from the launch center, which was previously shared with the Aryan 5. A new building called Pandora was built for this purpose at the CSG Technology Center for remote control. Launcher operation in chronological order. CNES has also confirmed the qualification of the P120C engine. This was done on the Powder Accelerator Test Bench (BEAP), during the 2nd firing in the Vega C configuration, in which the engine was started and it was operated for the duration equivalent of one flight. A third shot then qualifies the engine for the Arian 6.

Security procedures

Finally, CNES confirms that the new launcher developments meet the requirements of the law on space operations (technical regulations and regulations for managing CSG facilities). “It simply came to our notice then. Stephen Perezan, an engineer at CNES, explained. For example, we must make sure that we are able to control the consequences on property and people due to an inconsistency in flight, that the operator has no problem with the launcher’s motion presented at its request for launch approval, or that we do not leave a stage in orbit at the end of the mission. A Each flight is subject to an approval issued by the French state, following the opinion of the CNES compliance opinion manager. Qualification flights give rise to a specific approach: it is the president of CNES who certifies the ESA operator.

Did you know

For its first mission, Vega C will carry out a scientific experiment made by the Italian space agency, LARES 2 (Laser Relativity Satellite). The mission resonated with Vega’s first flight in 2012, which had already launched a first LARES satellite into orbit. It is a mission to study the gravitational field of the earth. On the same flight, the launcher will also carry 4 installations carrying 6 microsatellite (Greencube, MT-Cube 2, Celeste, Alpha, Astro Bio and Tricat-R).

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Launcher – Illustration Image Credit: Alena Butusava

Series Launcher

Whether they are called launchers or rockets, this CNES activity – which contributes to ensuring autonomous access to space for France and Europe – is constantly evolving. We invite you to discover its news through a series of articles You will read all the details about the new Ariane 6 launcher and its launch base and familiarize yourself with the innovations and technological advances that will inspire future programs by 2030.

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