[Lanceurs] The first imminent flight of Vega C

Transfer of the P120 engine to the ZLV Vega launch area. Credits: CNES / ESA / Arianespace / CSG Video Optics / JM Guillon

New life begins for the European Vega light launch pad. At the beginning of July, it will debut from Guyana in its new version Vega C, a development aimed at increasing its performance, in particular by allowing it to carry larger payloads, with a maximum take-off weight of 2.2 tons, compared to 1.5 tons in the previous version. Vega C also gains flexibility, it is able to put Earth observation satellites in a low orbit and carry out multiple launches of microsatellites. It will also make it possible to put the reusable Space Shuttle Space Rider into orbit by 2024. The development of the new launcher is also aimed at reducing its recurring cost thanks to industrial optimization and reducing production exposure to non-European sources. To achieve this performance, several modifications were made. The size and diameter of the first two stages have been increased for more powerful engines.

1Verse The Vega C stage is powered by a P120C containing 140 tons of propellant. This is the same engine as the Ariane 6 engine, which can be found in 2 or 4 versions on the Ariane 6 depending on the version.

Eric Robert, P120C Technical Expert

Air-conditioned facilities

CNES was heavily involved in preparing for the arrival of this new operator. In conjunction with CSG, the Ground Sub-Directorate has piloted adaptation of CSG’s measurement resources for real-time and delayed-time VEGA-C telemetry processing. For safety reasons, the increase in engine power also made it necessary to move away from the launch center, which was previously shared with the Ariane 5 launch center. A new purpose-built building called Pandora was built for this purpose in the CSG Technical Center, to remotely control operations on the launcher during the chronology . The French National Center for Space Studies also guaranteed the qualification of the P120C engine. This was performed on a Powder Accelerator Test Bench (BEAP), during two launches in a Vega C configuration, which consisted of getting the engine up and running for a flight equivalent duration. A third shot qualifies the engine for the Ariane 6.

security procedures

Finally, the French National Center for Space Studies ensures that the new developments of the launcher meet in all respects the requirements of the Code of Space Operations (regulations and technical regulations for the operation of CSG facilities). “It concerns many points, Stephan Berezan, an engineer at CNES, explains. For example, we must make sure that we will be able to control the consequences to property and people of an anomaly in flight, and that there is no problem with the operator trajectories provided by the operator in its application for launch permission, or that we will not leave a stage in orbit at the end of the mission . » Each flight is subject to a license issued by the French state, after obtaining an opinion from the Director of Compliance Opinion at the French National Center for Space Studies. Qualifying flights lead to a specific procedure: it is the head of the CNES who issues the certificate to the ESA operator.

Do you know

On its first mission, Vega C will carry a science experiment developed by the Italian space agency LARES 2 (Laser Relativistic Satellite). This mission resonates with Vega’s first flight, in 2012, which had already put the first LARES satellite into orbit. These are important for studying the Earth’s gravitational field. In the same flight, the launch pad will also carry 4 launchers carrying 6 small satellites (Greencube, MT-cube 2, Celeste, Alpha, Astro bio and TRISAT-R).

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Launcher – Image Caption Credits: Alena Butusava

Series launchers

Whether they are called launchers or missiles, the activity of CNES – which contributes to ensuring independent access to space for France and Europe – is constantly developing. We invite you to discover its news through a series of articles. You’ll read all the details about the new Ariane 6 launcher and launch base and learn about the technological innovations and breakthroughs that will fuel future programs by 2030.

#Lanceurs #imminent #flight #Vega

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