Published on 1 December 2022
The second mission of Europe's new Vega C rocket did not go according to plan.
The medium-lift Vega C lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Tuesday (Dec. 20) at 8:47 p.m. EST (10:47 p.m. local time; 0147 GMT on Dec. 21), carrying two satellites for Airbus' Pléiades Neo Earth-imaging constellation.
The rocket's first stage, known as the P120C, did its job. But the second stage, called the Zefiro 40, did not.
"Approximately 2 minutes and 27 seconds after liftoff an anomaly occurred on the Zefiro 40, thus ending the Vega C mission," representatives of Arianespace, the French company that operates the Vega C, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday night. "Data analyses are in progress to determine the reasons of this failure."
The Vega C was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is operated by Arianespace.
The 115-foot-tall (35 meters), four-stage rocket is a more powerful version of the Vega, which first flew in 2012. The Vega C can haul about 5,070 pounds (2,300 kilograms) of payload to a 435-mile-high (700 kilometers) sun-synchronous orbit, compared to 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg) for the older rocket, according to Arianespace.
The two spacecraft that were lost due to Tuesday's failure, Pléiades Neo 5 and Pléiades Neo 6, together weighed 4,359 pounds (1,977 kg). The duo were headed to sun-synchronous orbit, where they would have completed Airbus' Pléiades Neo Earth-imaging constellation.
Europe’s Vega C rocket fails on 2nd-ever mission, 2 satellites lost. (2022, December 21). Space.com.