Europe's Vega rocket launch set for early February

Jan 09, 2012
The Vega rocket is seen in Kourou, French Guiana, in 2007. The maiden voyage of Europe's Vega rocket, designed to launch small payloads of about 1.5 tonnes into low-Earth orbit, is set for February 9, the head of the European Space Agency said Monday.

The maiden voyage of Europe's Vega rocket, designed to launch small payloads of about 1.5 tonnes into low-Earth orbit, is set for February 9, the head of the European Space Agency said Monday.

"The target date for the Vega launch, set with all the partners involved -- Arianespace, industry, other space agencies -- is February 9," ESA's Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said at a press conference.

The rocket is scheduled to lift the LARES (Laser Relativity Satellite), along with several other micro-satellites, from the Ariane launch site in Kourou, French Guiana.

The ESA had hoped to put the first Vega into space as early as 2009, and in October set a January 30 date for the light rocket's first voyage.

"Goodness knows it is a very difficult campaign. Everything is new," Dordain said, adding that he was confident the new date would hold.

Bringing Vega on line means that Europe will have completed its three-pronged launch capability.

Heavy-lifter Ariane ES can hoist the 20 tonnes Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) supply module to the , while the Ariane ECA is designed mainly to lift weighing up to 10 tonnes into geostationary orbit.

The Russian workhorse , launched for the first time from the Ariane site in October, carries mid-sized loads.

Explore further: Italy's first female astronaut heads to ISS in Russian craft

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User comments : 2

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gmurphy
4 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2012
February 9th!, this spacecraft and I share a birthday :), I wonder what impact this system will have on launch price...
PhotonX
5 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2012
Indeed. Just what *is* the cost? Not mentioned here or in several other sites I checked.

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