PARIS — Thecommercial launch consortium on Nov. 20 announced it had signed a contract for 10 Vega small-satellite launchers with prime contractor ELV SpA of Italy.
The rockets will be ready for launch starting in 2015.
The contract, whose value was not disclosed, was signed in Rome during a bilateral Franco-Italian summit in the presence of the Italian and French heads of state and the two nations’ space ministers. The deal follows five rockets ordered previously as part of Vega’s introductory series of flights backed by the 20-nation European Space Agency.
Colleferro, Italy-based ELV is 70 percent owned by Avio and 30 percent by the Italian Space Agency. The company has said its biggest challenge, now that it has demonstrated the basic technical soundness of the Vega design with the success of the two first flights, will be driving down the recurring cost of manufacturing the rocket.
Vega’s principal market is for government Earth observation and science satellites.
Arianespace said it has agreed to a detailed sharing of risks with ELV.
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