Vega upper composite passes tests at ESTEC

October 5, 2006
Vega upper composite passes tests at ESTEC
Structural model of the upper composite of the Vega launch vehicle on the 'multishaker' electrodynamic shaker in the Test Centre at ESA-ESTEC. The octagonal structure at the top of the image is a mechanically representative model of a payload. Credits: ESA - A.Le Floc'h

The upper composite of ESA's new small launcher has passed its vibration tests at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) with flying colours. Vega's components are built and tested at various locations across Europe. The first launch is planned for the end of 2007 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Vega, which is being built by European industry under the leadership of ELV SpA (Italy), is a small launch vehicle designed to carry payloads in the range 300 kg to 2.5 tonnes into low Earth orbits. The typical reference for Vega's launch capacity is to carry 1500 kg to a 700 km-altitude polar orbit. Vega will be particularly suitable for the launch of scientific and Earth observation missions.


During the launch of a rocket, vibrations occur due to engine ignition, the thrust of the engines and the high-speed flow of air over the body of the vehicle as it accelerates through the Earth's atmosphere. The upper composite that has just been tested is the top part of the launcher, which houses the navigation, communications and control equipment. The payload is carried on top of the composite, protected by a streamlined fairing, or nosecone. During testing, a mechanically representative model of a real satellite was used.

In order to confirm that the upper composite will be able to withstand the vibrations that it will experience during launch, it was mounted on the 'multi-shaker' in the Test Centre at ESTEC. This electrodynamic vibration table applied accelerations to the base of the composite while around 400 accelerometers and 40 strain gauges measured the movements and forces within the structure. This confirms that the design calculations are correct.

"The vibration tests went well and we are on schedule" said Vega Test Manager Wolfgang Teichert. "We have carried out most of the tests for the final stage of the launcher".

Final exam

At the end of 2006, reports on all the tests will be presented at the 'Critical Design Review'. If Vega passes this 'final exam', production of components for the qualification flight launcher can proceed.

Industry day

The fourth Vega industry day is taking place on Thursday 5 October 2006 at ESA-ESTEC and the adjacent Space Expo in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. All the space industry members committed to the Vega Small Launcher programme are involved. The industry day is an occasion for all participants in the Vega programme to share an overview of the key technical and programmatic achievements in the development activities being carried out under the responsibility of the three main industrial contractors for the Vega programme:

Vitrociset SpA (Italy) – ground segment Europropulsion SA (France/Italy) – solid propellant motor and P80 first stage ELV SpA (Italy) – launch vehicle It will also be an opportunity to focus on the upcoming programme milestones leading to the qualification flight. Later flights, planned in the context of the Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment (VERTA) programme, will also be discussed. VERTA includes support for five demonstration flights that will serve to launch selected ESA payloads and showcase Vega's capabilities.

Source: ESA

Explore further: Venus

Related Stories


July 27, 2015

As the morning star, the evening star, and the brightest natural object in the sky (after the Moon), human beings have been aware of Venus since time immemorial. Even though it would be many thousands of years before it was ...

Sentinel-2A sealed from view

June 10, 2015

As preparations for the launch of Sentinel-2A continue on track, the team at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana has said farewell to the satellite as it was sealed from view in the Vega rocket fairing. Liftoff is ...

ESA recovers IXV spaceplane

March 30, 2015

ESA's recovered IXV spaceplane arrived at the Port of Livorno in Italy yesterday and is set to be taken to Turin for final analysis.

European environment satellite set for launch

April 3, 2014

Space technicians were preparing Thursday for the launch of the first satellite in an ambitious European project to monitor Earth for climate change, pollution and deforestation and help disaster relief.

Recommended for you

Orbiter views Mars surface fractures

October 8, 2015

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter often takes images of Martian sand dunes to study the mobile soils. These images provide information about erosion and ...

NASA measuring the pulsating aurora

October 7, 2015

Thanks to a lucky conjunction of two satellites, a ground-based array of all-sky cameras, and some spectacular aurora borealis, researchers have uncovered evidence for an unexpected role that electrons have in creating the ...

How to prepare for Mars? NASA consults Navy sub force

October 5, 2015

As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it's tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.