Vega-C launch vehicle made its maiden flight successfully

Due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, ESA no longer uses Russian rockets, so it needs to fill a huge gap in capability. At 21:13 on July 13, Beijing time, ESA's Vega-C rocket was launched for the first time at the Kuru Space Center, successfully performing a "low-Earth orbit" mission. The European Space Agency said that the successful first flight of the "Vega-C" rocket marked the beginning of a "new era" in the European rocket launch business.

This is the 83rd global space launch in 2022, the second for ESA, and the first for Vega.

According to a live video on the ESA website, on the afternoon of the 13th, Paris time, the "Vega-C" rocket carried 7 satellites from the Kourou Space Center in French Guiana, including the Italian Space Agency's 296-kilogram Laser Relativity Satellite 2. , and 6 other CubeSats. About 2 hours and 15 minutes after the launch, ESA declared the mission a success.

Daniel Neuenschwand, ESA's head of space transportation systems, said: "Today we start with the 'Vega-C' rocket project, supplemented by the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, to start the European rocket launch business. New Era."

The European Aviation Agency started the development of the "Vega" launch vehicle in 2003, and the first flight was successful in 2012; the development of the "Vega-C" was launched in 2014, and 13 countries including Italy and France participated. According to reports, the "Vega-C" rocket is a four-stage rocket. The first three stages use solid fuel, and the fourth stage uses liquid fuel, which can be ignited multiple times. The rocket is 34.8 meters long and has a launch weight of 210 tons. It can send a payload of about 2,200 kilograms into a polar orbit 700 kilometers above the ground, about 800 kilograms more than the "Vega" payload.

According to a press release issued by the European Aviation Agency a few days ago, compared with the "Vega" rocket, the "Vega-C" rocket has the characteristics of higher performance, larger payload, and stronger competitiveness.

European Arianespace said on the 13th that the first commercial launch of "Vega-C" will be implemented in November this year.

European Space Agency Administrator Ashbach: "Vega C's main mission is to launch satellites of up to 2.4 tons into low Earth orbit, which is the orbit that most Earth monitoring satellites operate in. Earth monitoring satellites are really taking the pulse of our planet. , which can be used in agriculture, forestry, low-cost detection, natural disaster monitoring, and climate change."

"There will be high launch demand in Europe over the next few years and beyond, and Vega-C and Ariane-6 will be our workhorses," Ashbach said.

As an upgraded version of the Vega rocket, the load capacity and flexibility of the Vega C rocket have been greatly improved. According to reports, the mission carried an Italian-developed laser relativistic satellite LARES-2 and six small cube satellites. The satellite is a passive satellite with a laser mirror to measure the distortion of space-time caused by the Earth's rotation, verifying Einstein's theory of general relativity (Lense-Thirring effect).

According to public information, "Vega-C" is improved on the basis of the basic Vega rocket and is a four-stage carrier rocket. The rocket is 34.8 meters long, has a take-off mass of 210 tons, and its 700-kilometer polar orbit has a capacity of 2.2 tons.

The "Vega-C" core stage 1 to core stage 3 are solid rockets, the core stage 4 (upper stage) is a liquid rocket, the diameter of the core stage is 3.4 meters, equipped with a P120C solid rocket engine, and the mass of the propellant is 143.6 tons; The second stage is equipped with a Zefiro-40 solid motor with a propellant mass of 36.2 tons; the core three-stage is equipped with a Zefiro-9 solid motor with a propellant mass of 10.5 tons; the core fourth stage is equipped with an AVUM + nitrous oxide/hydrazine Liquid rocket engine with a propellant mass of 0.74 tons.

Compared with the basic model of Vega, the length of "Vega-C" has increased by 4.8 meters, the take-off mass has increased by 73 tons, the maximum diameter has increased by 0.4 meters, and the polar orbit capacity of 700 kilometers has increased by 0.8 tons. type to perform space launch missions.

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