The “stacking” of Vega’s solid propellant propulsion systems is complete with integration of its Zefiro 9 third stage at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

This activity took place at the Spaceport’s ZLV launch site inside a protective mobile gantry, where the Zefiro 9 was placed atop Vega’s two other solid propellant stages: the Zefiro 23 second stage and the P80 first stage.

The next step will be Vega’s “top off” with its bi-propellant liquid upper stage, called the AVUM (Attitude and Vernier Upper Module).

Vega’s summer mission will loft the Sentinel-2A payload, which is the latest in Europe’s series of Earth observation satellites for the Copernicus initiative  led by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency.  The goal of Copernicus is to provide accurate, timely and easily-accessible information for improving management of the environment, as well as understanding and mitigating climate change effects, while also contributing to civil security.

The 1,140-kg.-class Sentinel-2A spacecraft is well suited for Arianespace’s lightweight Vega, which was conceived as a capable lightweight launcher in the company’s complete family  complementing its other two vehicles: the medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5.

Vega’s development was performed in a European program led by Italy’s ASI space agency and industrial prime contractor ELV SpA.