ESA Starts Qualification Launch Campaign for Vega Rocket

The agency is getting ready to press the rocket into active service

  The stages of the Vega qualification launcher, flight VV01, arrived in Kourou on October 24, 2011
Officials with the European Space Agency (ESA) are proud to announce the their efforts to start using the Vega rocket are progressing smoothly. Over the past few weeks, the organization managed to achieve a number of significant milestones for the project.

Officials with the European Space Agency (ESA) are proud to announce the their efforts to start using the Vega rocket are progressing smoothly. Over the past few weeks, the organization managed to achieve a number of significant milestones for the project.

The most important of them was ESA's decision to start the qualification launch campaign, which would check to see whether the first assembled Vega rocket respects the demands the space agency made of it.

In addition, ESA has also signed a new contract with French aerospace firm Arianespace – the company that builds the widely used Ariane 5 delivery system – for the construction of four additional Vega launchers.

The new rocket can carry payload masses ranging from 300 to 2,500 kilograms (661 to 5511 pounds) to a number of orbits. The benchmark that always informed the vehicle's development was putting a 1,500-kilogram (3306-pound) cargo into a 700-kilometer (435-mile) polar orbit.

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By    28 Oct 2011, 14:26 GMT