Vega rocket successfully launched into space

Vega rocket successfully launched into space

The 30-meter-high vega lifted off without a hitch from the kourou spaceport in the south american french guiana on monday morning and released nine satellites into space about an hour later. It was built mainly in italy.

The program cost the participating esa countries and the industry around 790 million euros. Germany has not given any money so far, but now wants to re-evaluate a participation. "A successful launch is a good basis for discussion," johann-dietrich worner, head of the german aerospace center (dlr), told the dpa news agency. A decision will be made in the next few weeks. German industry was able to build the upper stage of the rocket in the future. The flux drive installed there to steer the rocket in space currently comes from russian-ukrainian production.

The vega completes the european rocket family, which so far consists of the more than 50-meter-high ariane 5 and the medium-size soyuz purchased from russia. Depending on the type and height of the desired orbit, the youngest carrier can carry loads with a mass of between 300 and 2500 kilograms into space.

"There is now no european satellite that we have not been able to put into space," said esa director general jean-jacques dordain in kourou. "This is a great day for the esa and especially for italy, where the vega was born."About 1000 people and 40 companies were involved in the development of the system.

On board the first vega were eight miniature satellites from european universities and, as the main load, the approximately 400-kilo italian research satellite "lares. The round shape with 92 shiny mirrors, reminiscent of a rough disco ball, is intended to enable better exploration of the "swirling space-time". The so-called lense-thirring effect results from albert einstein’s theory of relativity and causes, for example, the rotations of satellites to be altered by the earth’s gravitational pull.

"The mirrors will reflect laser beams that we point at the satellite from a ground station," explained alessandro gabrielli of the italian space agency asi. "By measuring the path of the beam with a high degree of accuracy, we have the ability to study the effect."

The smallest satellites in the form of cubes with an edge length of just ten centimeters were developed by european students. They are to be used, for example, to test solar technologies or take radiation measurements. Two of the satellites come from romania and hungary. For the two countries, these are the first satellites of their own in space.

"Lares" was released from vega, which weighed 137 tons at launch, after 55 minutes of flight in a 1450 kilometer high orbit above the earth. The other satellites followed 15 minutes later. They will orbit the earth in an elliptical path.

The last launch of a completely new developed european rocket was the first ariane 5. She picked up on 4. June 1996 in kourou – but shortly after launch it went off course and had to be blown up over the sea. In the meantime, however, the ariane 5 program has become a success story. 60 rockets already launched into space from kourou.

As future vega operator, arianespace is responsible for launch operations. The european company has scheduled a total of eleven launches in kourou this year. In addition to seven heavy-lift rockets of the type ariane 5, three of the soyuz purchased in russia are to take off. Since last year, they have officially belonged to the european rocket family.

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