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: The DAVINCI spacecraft

Related Stories

The DAVINCI spacecraft

October 6, 2015

It's no secret that there has been a resurgence in interest in space exploration in recent years. Much of the credit for this goes to NASA's ongoing exploration efforts on Mars, which in the past few years have revealed things ...

The sun

September 28, 2015

The sun is the center of the Solar System and the source of all life and energy here on Earth. It accounts for more than 99.86% of the mass of the Solar System and it's gravity dominates all the planets and objects that orbit ...

First Vega rocket assembled on launch pad

January 30, 2012

( -- ESA’s new Vega rocket is now fully assembled on its launch pad. Final preparations are in full swing for the rocket’s inaugural flight from Europe’s Spaceport. The launch window opens on 9 ...

Successful firing of Vega’s first-stage motor in Kourou

November 30, 2006

The largest European mono-segment filament-wound case solid propellant motor ever developed came to life at 12:30 Kourou time today (15:30 UT) when it was ignited for its first static firing test at the Guiana Space Centre, ...

Building Vega meant testing materials to their limits

March 13, 2012

When the first of Europe’s Vega rockets thundered skywards on 13 February, it was a new design based on some novel materials. Such novelty called for rigorous technical risk management by ESA’s materials specialists.

Vega main engine test in Kourou

December 5, 2007

A prototype of the P80 rocket motor, which will power the first stage of ESA's new small launcher - Vega, was successfully tested on 4 December at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Ignition ...

Recommended for you

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...

Aging star's weight loss secret revealed

November 25, 2015

A team of astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope has captured the most detailed images ever of the hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris. These observations show how the unexpectedly large size of the particles of dust surrounding ...


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.