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Arianespace’s Vega Launcher Successfully Orbits Three CERES Satellites

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
November 16, 2021
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Launch of Vega VV20 on 16 November 2021, from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying three CERES Earth observation satellites. (Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace)
  • On November 16, Arianespace successfully carried out its 20th Vega launch (VV20), its 12th launch of the year and the third with the Vega light launcher. It was also the 300th launch by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center.
  • The mission orbited three CERES satellites, developed for the French armed forces with French defense procurement agency DGA as contracting authority and with the assistance of the French space agency CNES.
  • This latest mission by Vega once again shows Arianespace’s ability to support the most innovative satellite-based solutions from institutional customers.

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — On Tuesday, November 16 at 6:27 am local time in Kourou, French Guiana, Arianespace successfully launched three CERES military intelligence satellites from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana (South America).

“This mission shows the exceptional versatility of the Vega launcher,” said Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace. “Our light launcher had already orbited two satellites for the Pleiades Neo constellation for Airbus this year, along with nine auxiliary payloads, and today we continue this string with three CERES satellites. I would like to thank the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, DGA and CNES for continuing to entrust us with their missions, and also congratulate everybody responsible for this success at Arianespace and Avio, the Vega prime contractor. It marks the third success in less than a month for our launcher family Ariane, Vega and Soyuz.”

The three CERES (CapacitÉ de Renseignement Électromagnétique Spatiale) satellites are designed to collect signals intelligence (SIGINT) from areas inaccessible to surface sensors, excluding restrictions on airspace overflights and in all weather conditions. They will greatly enhance visual situational awareness to support the design and execution of military operations. A state-of-the-art system, CERES allows France to join the very select club of nations with these advanced capabilities. Airbus Defence and Space is the prime contractor for the space segment, and is co-prime with Thales Defence Mission Systems, in charge of the payload and user ground segment. In addition, Thales Alenia Space acts as a subcontractor to Airbus Defence and Space for the supply of the satellite platform.

The Vega launcher, built by Avio (Colleferro, Italy) as prime contractor, is perfectly suited to the institutional market. Because of its performance and versatility, Arianespace offers customers the best possible solutions to orbit their small and medium payloads for a wide range of applications (Earth observation, science, education, defense, etc.).

The launch at a glance:

  • 336th launch for the Arianespace launcher family (300th launch from CSG),
  • CERES 1, 2 and 3 are the 1,060th, 1,061st and 1,062nd satellites launched by Arianespace,
  • They are also the 47th, 48th and 49th French institutional satellites launched by Arianespace,
  • CERES 1, 2 and 3 are the 116th, 117th and 118th Earth observation satellites launched by Arianespace. Earth observation missions account for 11% of all satellites launched by Arianespace.

About Arianespace

Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited over 1000 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and from the Russian cosmodromes in Baikonur and Vostochny. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.

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