Watch Vega’s Rideshare Launch Live This Weekend

Shown during the SSMS payload integration process for Arianespace’s Flight VV16 is the ION CubeSat carrier – a platform that will deploy 12 CubeSats after being placed in orbit by the Vega launcher. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — Subject to favourable weather conditions, the soonest possible launch date for the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) proof-of-concept flight is Sunday 21 June from 02:36 BST/03:36 CEST (20 June at 22:51 local time in Kourou).

Please check here for updates.

Tune in to ESA Web TV to watch the return to flight of Vega on its debut rideshare mission dedicated to light satellites.

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53 Smallsats Integrated for Vega’s First Rideshare Mission

Shown during the SSMS payload integration process for Arianespace’s Flight VV16 is the ION CubeSat carrier – a platform that will deploy 12 CubeSats after being placed in orbit by the Vega launcher. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — The 53 satellite passengers for Arianespace’s rideshare flight with its Vega light-lift launcher have been integrated at the Spaceport in French Guiana, marking a key milestone in preparation for the June 18 Proof of Concept mission with Europe’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS).

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ESAIL Maritime Satellite Ready for Launch

The ESAIL satellite prior to encapsulation. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — The ESAIL microsatellite for tracking ships worldwide – developed under an ESA Partnership Project – has completed its accommodation on Vega’s new dispenser for small satellites and is ready for launch. 

The Vega launch campaign at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, resumed three weeks ago, following an interruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Vega Inaugural Rideshare Mission Set for Launch

Editor’s Note: The launch is scheduled for June 19 at 0151 GMT (June 18 at 9:51 p.m. EDT).

KOUROU, French Guiana (ESA PR) — Multiple small satellites will be launched at once on the Vega VV16 mission from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This flight will demonstrate the modular SSMS dispenser resting on its upper stage intended to bring routine affordable launch opportunities for light satellites from 0.2 kg CubeSats up to 400 kg minisatellites.

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Schedule for Upcoming Launches

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The week ahead features launches by Rocket Lab and SpaceX, Vega’s first rideshare mission, two Chinese launches, and a Japanese sounding rocket flight.

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Preparations Resume for Vega’s Upcoming Mission with 53 Small Satellites

Arianespace personnel are utilizing smart glasses during certain payload checkout activities for Flight VV16 at the Spaceport in French Guiana, enabling customers to remotely monitor operations performed on satellites that will be orbited this month by the Vega light-lift launcher. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — The launch campaign has resumed for Arianespace’s next mission, which will be the proof-of-concept flight with the Vega launcher’s “ride-share” configuration – known as the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS).

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Arianespace to Resume Launches from French Guiana

Ariane 5 launches on Feb. 18, 2020. (Credit: Arianespace)

EVRY_COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — Following the measures presented by the French government on April 28 as part of the gradual resumption of activity planned from May 11, and the announcement of a restart of operational activities at the Guiana Space Center, Arianespace confirms its following launch objectives:

  • Flight VV16/SSMS – The first “rideshare” Vega launch, carrying approximately 50 small satellites, in mid-June;
  • Flight VA253 – A dual-payload Ariane 5 mission for two customers, Intelsat and B-SAT, at the end of July.
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Spaceflight Readies 28 Payloads for Inaugural Rideshare Launch on Arianespace’s Vega

Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying Italy’s PRISMA Earth observation satellite on the third Arianespace mission of 2019. (Credit: Arianespace)

First dedicated rideshare mission on Vega to launch spacecraft for Spaceflight customers, including Satellogic, Planet, and Swarm Technologies.

SEATTLE, March 9, 2020 (Spaceflight PR) –– Spaceflight today announced it is providing mission management and rideshare integration services for four organizations on Arianespace’s first dedicated rideshare mission on its Vega launch vehicle. The proof of concept rideshare mission, VV16, will launch 53 microsatellites, nanosatellites and cubesats, including 28 payloads from Spaceflight customers Satellogic, Planet, Swarm Technologies, and an undisclosed organization. 

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3D-printed Thrust Chamber Passes First Tests for Vega Evolutions

he 3D-printed thrust chamber assembly of the methane-fuelled M10 rocket engine passed its first series of hot firing tests at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in the USA during February 2020. The M10 engine will power the upper stage of future Vega evolutions from 2025. (Credit: ESA/NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (ESA PR) — The 3D-printed thrust chamber assembly of the methane-fuelled M10 rocket engine has passed its first series of hot firing tests. The M10 engine will power the upper stage of future Vega evolutions from 2025.

“These test results are encouraging, confirming that our propulsion teams are right on track along the development path identified for such novel technology for Vega evolutions,” commented Giorgio Tumino, managing ESA’s Vega and Space Rider development programmes.

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Arianespace Looks Back on Solid 2019

Ariane 5 booster lifts off. (Credit: Arianespace)

COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace recorded a solid operational and business performance in 2019 by orbiting 24 satellites with nine launches, while signing 14 launch services contracts during the year for a total of 44 satellites ranging in mass from six kilograms to nearly six metric tons – marking the flexibility of the company’s commercial offer.

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Arianespace Looks Break Launch Records, Debut New Boosters in 2020

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

COURCOURONNES, France (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace is heading into 2020 fully prepared to capitalize on the latest commercial opportunities for Ariane 5 and to succeed with Vega’s return-to-flight, planned for March. Arianespace also is aiming to set three new records:

  • For the number of launches during the year, with up to 12 opportunities identified from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, along with the first flights of Vega C and Ariane 6; and eight more from the cosmodromes at Baikonur and Vostochny. (from these two cosmodromes, this launch cadence could be augmented based on satellite availability),
  • For the number of satellites placed into orbit – more than 300 – taking into account the continued deployment of OneWeb satellites and the SSMS rideshare mission with Vega, and
  • For the number of launch pads at its service: four at the Guiana Space Center (for Ariane 5, Ariane 6, Soyuz and Vega/Vega C), along with one each at the Baikonur and Vostochny cosmodromes for Soyuz.
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ESA Commissions World’s First Space Debris Removal

ClearSpace-1 (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ClearSpace-1 will be the first space mission to remove an item of debris from orbit, planned for launch in 2025. The mission is being procured as a service contract with a startup-led commercial consortium, to help establish a new market for in-orbit servicing, as well as debris removal.

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Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

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RUAG Space’s New Payload Fairing Provides Quieter Ride to Orbit

faring separation system pillars (Credit: RUAG Space)

ZURICH, Switzerland (RUAG Space PR) — RUAG Space, a leading supplier to the space industry, has successfully developed and tested a new low shock jettison system for payload fairings. This enables a quieter and smoother journey to space for satellites or other payload.

The required payload fairings for the European launchers Ariane and VEGA have been produced by RUAG Space in Emmen, Switzerland, since the 1970s. As part of the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP) of the European Space Agency (ESA),

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ESA, Arianespace Sign Launch Contract for Earth Explorer Biomass Satellite

ESA’s Earth Explorer Biomass satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Today, ESA and Arianespace signed a contract that secures the launch of the Earth Explorer Biomass satellite. With liftoff scheduled for 2022 on a Vega launch vehicle from French Guiana, this new mission is another step closer to mapping the amount of carbon stored in forests and how it changes over time though deforestation, for example.

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