February 15, 2012
Vega Success Assures Sentinel Launches
Monday's successful maiden flight of ESA´s new Vega rocket from Europe´s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, opens a new set of launch services — including two of the Sentinel satellites for GMES.
According to contracts signed in December, Arianespace will launch Sentinel-2B and Sentinel-3B on this new light launcher. These launches are foreseen in 2014—15.The Sentinel missions are based on a constellation of two satellites to maximize coverage of Earth. The two to be launched on Vega are the second Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3 satellites.
Vega´s light launch capacity accommodates a wide range of satellites, from 300—2500 kg, into a wide range of orbits, from equatorial to Sun-synchronous.
Vega will thus add to Europe´s set of launch services next to the Ariane 5 heavy-lifter and the Soyuz medium-class launcher already in service.
Vega, at its maiden flight yesterday, carried nine satellites, seven of them built by European universities. Three of these were sponsored through ESA´s educational program.
CubeSats, were the first to be built in central and eastern Europe: PW-Sat from Poland, Goliat from Romania, and Masat-1 from Hungary, marking a milestone in participation of new EU Member States.
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