Vega Rocket Flight VV16 Lifts Off and Deploys 53 Satellites [Video]

Vega Flight VV16 Lift Off

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On September 2 2020, Vega flight VV16 took off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to gradually provide 53 light satellites into Sun-concurrent orbits at 515 km and 530 km elevation on an objective long lasting 124 minutes. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Vidéo du CSG – JM GUILLON

Vega Return to Flight Proves New Rideshare Service

The very first flight of Vega’s rideshare service utilizing the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser for light satellites, introduced from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 02: 51 BST / 03: 51 CEST on September 3 (22: 51 regional time on September 2).

Vega’s go back to flight today shows brand-new launch service abilities on an ESA-developed launch lorry while guaranteeing connection of Europe’s ensured and independent access to area.

This flight marks the quick and effective conclusion of restorative procedures and actions performed by market with ESA in the lead as the Vega Launch System Qualification Authority, list below suggestions made by the Independent Inquiry Commission which examined the failure of Vega flight VV15 on July 10, 2019.

“It is back to business at Europe’s Spaceport and we are proud that Vega returns to flight to prove a new dedicated launch service. Europe’s first Small Spacecraft Mission Service opens the door for routine affordable access to space for small satellites – a new approach which shows we are addressing new market needs,” commented Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation.

SSMS Payload Dispenser Transfer

In preparation for flight VV16, Vega’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser is moved with all satellites installed from constructing S5C to constructing S5B at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on 4 June 2020. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon

This is a proof-of-concept flight run by Arianespace as part of ESA’s Light satellites, Low expense, Launch chances (LLL) effort, chosen by the ESA Council at Ministerial level in 2016, to prepare the method for regular services for light satellites utilizing the European launch lorries Vega/Vega-C and Ariane 6.

This SSMS dispenser is a modular light-weight carbon-fiber structure created to carry several light payloads to area and can be set up extremely near to release to bring a series of various amounts and sizes of satellites. This suggests Vega can use budget-friendly and practical launch chances for little satellites, without the restraints of taking a trip as secondary payloads with much bigger satellites. Following implementation of the satellites, the dispenser will deorbit to prevent developing area particles.

“This launch demonstrates ESA’s ability to use innovation to lower the costs, become more flexible, more agile and make steps towards commercialization,” stated ESA Director General Jan Wörner, including “This enhanced ability to access space for innovative small satellites will deliver a range of positive results from new environmental research to demonstrating new technologies.”

Small satellites have actually opened chances for business and institutional users to gain access to area for research study and business applications, and are main to the NewSpace economy.

Vega VV16 with SSMS and SAT-AIS

Artist’s view of Vega VV16 with the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser and SAT-AIS. Visible are the Zefiro-9 upper phase, the Attitude Vernier Upper Module (AVUM) and the SSMS dispenser with its payload of satellites. Credit: ESA – J. Huart

Vega brought 7 microsatellites weighing from 15 kg to 150 kg, in addition to 46 smaller sized CubeSats all for release into Sun-concurrent orbits at about 515 km and 530 km elevation. The last satellite was launched about 104 minutes after liftoff.

About half of the overall mass of the 53 satellites aggregated by Arianespace on today’s launch originates from European States (8 of them are represented) and ESA has actually added to the advancement of 4 of them – the 113 kg ESAIL microsatellite and 3 CubeSats: Simba, Picasso, and FSSCat/Φ-sat-1.

Simba CubeSat

Led by the Royal Meteorological Institute Belgium, Simba is a 3-unit CubeSat objective to determine the Total Solar Irradiance and Earth Radiation Budget environment variables with a miniaturised radiometer instrument, due to be introduced in 2020 on the inaugural flight of the ESA’s established ‘Small Spacecraft Mission System’ dispenser – dedicated to CubeSats and other little satellites – on a Vega launcher. Credit: RMI

The ESAIL satellite, integrated in Luxembourg by LuxSpace, will assist to provide the next generation of space-based services for maritime traffic. It will track ships by identifying their automated recognition system messages worldwide, enhancing security at sea. It will likewise assist with tracking of fisheries and environmental management.

Simba, led by the Royal Meteorological Institute Belgium (with the University of Leuven and ISISpace in the Netherlands), is a CubeSat that will utilize a mini radiometer to determine 2 essential environment variables: inbound solar radiation and outbound Earth radiation over all wavelengths, in addition to showing an accurate mindset control system.

ESAIL Satellite Mounted on Vega Small Satellite Dispenser

The ESAIL satellite installed on Vega’s little satellite dispenser. Credit: ESA

The likewise sized Picasso (led by Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy with VTT Finland and Clyde Space, UK) will determine dizzying ozone circulation, the temperature level in the mesosphere — utilizing a recently established mini multi-spectral imager, and the density of electrons in the ionosphere utilizing a set of 4 brand-new electrostatic probes.

A Federated Satellite Systems (FSSCat) objective proposed by Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya at the 2017 Copernicus Masters, has actually been established by a consortium of European business and institutes. It makes it possible for the very first ESA effort utilizing expert system on board an Earth observation objective.


The PICosatellite for Atmospheric and Space Science Observations (PICASSO) CubeSat, created to examine the upper layers of Earth’s environment. Credit: BISA

This pioneering innovation called Φ-sat-1 (noticable ‘Phisat-1’), will enable just functional information to go back to Earth. This guarantees effective handling of information so that users will have access to prompt info – eventually benefiting society at big.

Today’s Vega flight was moneyed in part by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 program within the frame of the Contribution Agreement in between ESA and the EU on area innovation activities signed on 16 April 2019. It supports the in-flight presentation and recognition of this brand-new rideshare service, in addition to the launch service for the UPMSat-2 microsatellite.

Satellite AI

To show the capacity of expert system in area, ESA has actually been dealing with partners to establish ɸ-sat to boost the FSSCat objective. The hyperspectral electronic camera on among the 2 CubeSats that comprise the FSSCat objective will gather a massive variety of pictures of Earth, a few of which will not appropriate for usage due to the fact that of cloud cover. To prevent downlinking these less than ideal images back to Earth, the ɸ-sat expert system chip will filter them out so that just functional information are returned. Credit: CERN/M. Brice

Vega and its payloads were kept in safe conditions and batteries were charged after a number of launch efforts in June were disrupted by undesirable weather condition at high elevation above Europe’s Spaceport.

About SSMS

The Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser has a modular style that can be adjusted for various launch requirements. It can offer launch chances for light satellites with a general mass varying from 1 kg CubeSats as much as 500 kg minisatellites. SAB Aerospace created and made this modular dispenser for ESA’s Vega prime professional Avio.

Vega VV16 with SSMS

Artist’s view of Vega VV16 with the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser and SAT-AIS. Visible are the Zefiro-9 upper phase, the Attitude Vernier Upper Module (AVUM) and the SSMS dispenser with its payload of satellites. Credit:
ESA – J. Huart

About Vega

Europe’s light-lift Vega rocket introduced for the very first time in February 2012. It is a 3 m size single-body lorry, 30 metres in height. It has 3 solid-propellant phases and a liquid-propellant upper module for mindset and orbit control, and satellite release.

ESA is wanting to the future with Vega-C, a more effective variation of Vega, prepared to fly for the very first time in 2020. Vega-C will use an additional 700 kg of capability and bigger volume within a larger launcher fairing at a comparable expense to Vega – permitting a lot more guests per private rideshare launch at considerable lower expense per kg.