Vega's second stage motor roars to life

Jun 26, 2006
Vega's second stage motor roars to life
A static test firing of the Zefiro 23 second-stage engine of Europe's new Vega launch vehicle was conducted on Monday 26 June 2006, at the Italian Ministry of Defence test centre in Salto di Quirra, Sardinia. Credits: ESA-S. CORVAJA

ESA's Vega small satellite launch vehicle has made a new step toward its maiden flight, late next year, with the success of the first firing test on its second stage motor, the Zefiro 23.

The static firing was performed today, 26 June, at the Italian Ministry of Defence test centre in Salto di Quirra, Sardinia. The 7.5m tall, 2m diameter motor, featuring a carbon epoxy filament wound casing, delivered more than 100 metric tons of thrust (1,070 kN), burning some 24 metric tons of solid propellant in 75 seconds.

Numerous data were gathered during the test and are now under analysis to improve technical knowledge of the motor's behaviour and refine the launcher's future performance. Also tested during the firing were various subsystems, including a thrust vector control system that will steer the motor's nozzle to provide flight control. After this success, the motor will proceed with its critical design review, at which stage its technical characteristics will be finalised.

Built by Avio in Colleferro, near Rome, the Zefiro 23 motor will be the basis for the second stage of ESA's Vega launcher. The first firing test with the third stage motor – the Zefiro 9 – was performed in December 2005. Conducted on behalf of ESA's Vega development programme, these two firing tests followed three static firings of the Zefiro 16 demonstrator in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Both the Zefiro 23 and Zefiro 9 will undergo an additional ground firing test each to complete their development and qualification.

"The Zefiro 23 is one of the largest composite casing solid rocket motors ever test fired in Western Europe," noted Antonio Fabrizi, ESA's director of launchers, "but it will be dwarfed shortly, when we will fire Vega's first stage motor, the P80, with its 88 tons of propellant, in Kourou, French Guiana, in November."

"With this new motor firing, the Vega programme has passed another milestone in good time," continued Fabrizi, "and I praise our industrial team as well as our partner the Italian Space Agency, for this achievement. Now let's proceed and make sure we will be able to meet our schedule for the next phases."

The first Vega flight is currently set for the end of 2007 from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Under development since 1998 with the support of seven ESA Member States (Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden), ESA's Vega small satellite launcher is an all-solid three-stage vehicle with a liquid-fuelled injection module. ELV SpA, a joint venture of Avio and ASI, the Italian Space Agency, was delegated the responsibility for Vega development. CNES, the French space agency, holds similar responsibility for the P80 first stage.

Vega is designed to loft single or multiple payloads to orbits up to 1,500 km in altitude. Its baseline payload capability is about 1,500 kg to a circular 700-km high sun-synchronous orbit but it can also loft satellites from 300 kg to more than 2 metric tonnes, as well as piggyback microsatellites. This range of performance covers the needs for multiple applications in the fields of remote sensing, environmental monitoring, Earth science, space science, fundamental science and research and technology for future space applications and systems. Once qualified, Vega will be marketed and operated by Arianespace, as a complement to Ariane 5 and Soyuz, and will address the small satellite launch market.

Source: European Space Agency

Explore further: Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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

Nov 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 ...

Driverless car concept gains traction at CES

Jan 09, 2013

Automakers and technology firms are jumping on the bandwagon of the driverless car, which remains a concept as well as a platform for new technologies to improve safety on the road.

Building Vega meant testing materials to their limits

Mar 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 ...

Tests show wireless network could jam GPS systems

Jun 11, 2011

New government test results show that a proposed high-speed wireless broadband network being launched by a company called LightSquared could jam GPS systems used for aviation, public safety, military operations and other ...

Recommended for you

Orion on track at T MINUS 1 Week to first blastoff

5 hours ago

At T MINUS 1 Week on this Thanksgiving Holiday, all launch processing events remain on track for the first blast off of NASA's new Orion crew vehicle on Dec. 4, 2014 which marks the first step on the long ...

Bad weather delays Japan asteroid probe lift off

11 hours ago

Bad weather will delay the launch of a Japanese space probe on a six-year mission to mine a distant asteroid, just weeks after a European spacecraft's historic landing on a comet captivated the world.

Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

20 hours ago

Computer Scientists from The University of Manchester have boosted NASA space missions by pioneering a global project to develop programs that efficiently test and control NASA spacecraft.

User comments : 0

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.