With Ariane 5, Europe has its own high-performance, cost-effective heavy-lift launcher capable of orbiting the heaviest satellites.
But while the trend is towards bigger payloads, there is also a growing market for small satellites. In 1998, ESA started development of a small solid-propellant launcher called Vega to meet this need.
The objective is to provide quick, easy and affordable access to space.
To this end, Vega will complement the Ariane and Soyuz families, designed to orbit heavier payloads, and will enable launch operator Arianespace to offer customers a complete range of services. Europe's independant launch capability will thus be enhanced.
Like Ariane, Vega will operate from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. At the Guiana Space Centre, work to accommodate the new rocket began in late 2004.
|Initiators||ESA and ASI (Italian Space Agency)|
|Approved||ESA council in June 1998 (proposed by Italy)|
|Participants||Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland|
|Objective||Develop a small low-cost launcher to complemente Ariane and Soyuz|
The second flight of ESA’s newest launch vehicle has been completed from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana to deploy the Proba-V, VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1 satellite payloads.
To carry out additional checks on the mobile gantry system used on the Vega launch complex (SLV), the European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace have decided to postpone the Vega launch VV02 for 24 hours on 3 May (Kourou), 4 May (Paris).