Latest Vega launch lofts Kazakhstan's first Earth observation satellite
Arianespace is on track for a record launch performance in 2014 following tonight’s Vega mission from the Spaceport in French Guiana, which successfully orbited a pioneering Earth observation satellite for the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Lifting off from the SLV launch site at 10:35:15 p.m. local time, Vega was put through its paces to loft DZZ-HR, renamed “KazEOSat-1” after reaching Sun-synchronous orbit, during a flight lasting 55 minutes.
As an 800-kg.-class Earth observation spacecraft, KazEOSat-1 is to provide the Republic of Kazakhstan with a complete range of civil applications – including monitoring of natural and agricultural resources, provision of mapping data, and support for rescue operations in the event of a natural disaster.
Tonight’s mission – designated Flight VV03 – marked the third launch of a Vega, which joins Arianespace’s medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5.
Conceived for the orbiting of small- to medium-sized satellites, including institutional and scientific spacecraft, Vega was developed in the framework of a European Space Agency (ESA) program financed by Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden. The launcher design authority and prime contractor is Italy’s ELV – a joint venture company of Avio and the Italian ASI space agency – while Arianespace is responsible for handling the launch operations.
The first Vega launch (designated Flight VV01 in Arianespace’s numbering system) was a qualification mission performed in February 2012, carrying the LARES laser relativity satellite, a small ALMASat-1 technology microsatellite demonstrator, and seven CubeSats. It was followed by Flight VV02 in May 2013, which orbited the Proba-V, VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1 satellites.
Tonight’s Vega success was Arianespace’s fourth mission so far in 2014, putting the company on track to perform a total of 12 launches from Europe’s Spaceport during the year – which would mark a new record, surpassing the 10 launches in 2012. It follows the Ariane 5 flight that orbited ABS-2 and Athena-Fidus in February; Ariane 5’s March success with ASTRA 5B and Amazonas 4A; and the Soyuz mission to loft Sentinel-1A earlier this month.