Designers of Europe’s light-lift Vega rocket are creating a slew of new products intended to lure prospective customers away from India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and to fend off the coming wave of launch startups that are developing dedicated rockets for cubesats and other small satellites.
The Italian Space Agency on Dec. 19 signed Sitael as the prime contractor for a new 200- kilogram small satellite line called Platino, meant to pair Italy’s strength in light launch with an aptly designed product.
The European Space Agency today committed 89.7 million euros ($106.7 million) split between a new advanced iteration of the Vega launcher and the successor to a spaceplane demonstrator that flew in 2015.
Arianespace completed the company’s tenth launch this year Nov. 7, delivering a Moroccan Earth observation satellite to low-Earth orbit on a Vega rocket.
Arianespace’s smallest rocket launched two remote sensing satellites co-produced by Israeli and European teams on an Aug. 1 night mission from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
Despite the ongoing development of a fleet of small launch vehicles, both launch providers and customers continue to see demand for flying small satellites as secondary payloads on larger rockets.
Italian launch vehicle producer Avio has raised 60 million euros ($65.6 million dollars) by selling slightly over two thirds of the company’s shares on Italy’s stock exchange.
The spacecraft carries a suite of multi-wavelength sensors for land imaging, and will work with Sentinel-2A launched in 2015.
The recent German-Italian agreement to divide production of casings for the future Ariane 6 rocket’s strap-on boosters, which also serve as the first stage of the Italian-led Vega-C small-satellite launcher, was a victory for political harmony in Europe.
Europe’s Vega small-satellite launcher on Sept. 15 successfully placed five high-resolution optical Earth observation satellites — one for the Peruvian government and four for Google-owned Terra Bella — into low Earth orbit.
The European Commission on July 20 approved the Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) takeover of launch-services provider Arianespace, saying companies had accepted conditions the commission imposed to minimize the chance of anti-competitive behavior.
Negotiations will start by June between the now fully operational Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) and the European Space Agency on the ASL’s bid to complete construction of the future Ariane 6 rocket, ESA Launcher Director Gaele Winters said.
The president of the Italian Space Agency on March 17 voiced strong opposition to a French industrial takeover of Italy’s Avio, which is prime contractor for the Italian-led Vega small-satellite launcher, in the latest indication of the challenges facing European launch-sector reorganization.
The Dec. 3 launch of the European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder fundamental-physics spacecraft marked the end of the long demonstration phase for Europe’s Vega small-satellite launcher, which has now posted six successes in six launch attempts.
The European Space Agency on Aug. 12 signed contracts with industry to produce an upgraded Vega small-satellite launcher for a launch in 2018 and the all-new Ariane 6 heavy-lift vehicle to debut in 2020.