Vega (rocket)

Vega (Italian: Vettore Europeo di Generazione Avanzata, or French: Vecteur européen de génération avancée, or English: European Vector of Advanced Generation,[9] meaning "Advanced generation European carrier rocket")[9] is an expendable launch system in use by Arianespace jointly developed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Development began in 1998 and the first launch took place from the Centre Spatial Guyanais on 13 February 2012.[4]

Vega's VV05 before liftoff with Sentinel-2A
FunctionSmall-lift launch vehicle
Country of originItaly,
European Space Agency[lower-alpha 1]
Cost per launchUS$37 million
Height30 m (98 ft)
Diameter3 m (9.8 ft)
Mass137,000 kg (302,000 lb)
Payload to polar orbit (700 km, i 90°)
Mass1,430 kg (3,150 lb)
Payload to elliptic orbit (1500 × 200 km,
i 5.4°)
Mass1,963 kg (4,328 lb)
Payload to SSO (400 km)
Mass1,450 kg (3,200 lb)
Associated rockets
Launch history
Launch sitesCentre Spatial Guyanais, ELV
Total launches
  • 22
    • Vega: 20
    • Vega-C: 2
  • 19
    • Vega: 18
    • Vega-C: 1
  • 3
    • Vega: 2
    • Vega-C: 1
First flight13 February 2012 [1]
Last flight21 December 2022
First stage – P80[2][3][4]
Height11.7 m (38 ft)
Diameter3 m (9.8 ft)
Empty mass7,330 kg (16,160 lb)
Gross mass95,695 kg (210,971 lb)
Powered byoff
Maximum thrust2,261 kN (508,000 lbf)
Specific impulse280 s (2.7 km/s)
Burn time107 seconds
PropellantHTPB (solid)
Second stage – Zefiro 23
Height8.39 m (27.5 ft)
Diameter1.9 m (6 ft 3 in)
Empty mass2,850 kg (6,280 lb)
Gross mass28,850 kg (63,600 lb)
Powered byoff
Maximum thrust871 kN (196,000 lbf)
Specific impulse287.5 s (2.819 km/s)
Burn time71.6 seconds
PropellantHTPB (solid) [5]
Third stage – Zefiro 9
Height4.12 m (13.5 ft)
Diameter1.9 m (6 ft 3 in)
Empty mass1,315 kg (2,899 lb)
Gross mass11,815 kg (26,048 lb)
Powered byoff
Maximum thrust260 kN (58,000 lbf)
Specific impulse296 s (2.90 km/s)
Burn time117 seconds
PropellantHTPB (solid) [6]
Upper stage – AVUM
Height1.7 m (5 ft 7 in)
Diameter1.9 m (6 ft 3 in)
Empty mass147 kg (324 lb)
Gross mass697 kg (1,537 lb)
Powered by1 × RD-843[7] (RD-868P)[8]
Maximum thrust2.42 kN (540 lbf)
Specific impulse315.5 s (3.094 km/s)
Burn time317 seconds
PropellantUDMH / N2O4

It is designed to launch small payloads – 300 to 2500 kg satellites for scientific and Earth observation missions to polar and low Earth orbits.[10] The reference Vega mission is a polar orbit bringing a spacecraft of 1500 kg to an altitude of 700 km.

The rocket, named after Vega, the brightest star in the constellation Lyra,[11] is a single-body launcher (no strap-on boosters) with three solid rocket stages: the P80 first stage, the Zefiro 23 second stage, and the Zefiro 9 third stage. The upper module is a liquid rocket called AVUM. The improved version of the P80 stage, the P120C, will also be used as the side boosters of the Ariane 6. Italy is the leading contributor to the Vega program (65%), followed by France (13%).[12] Other participants include Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden.[13]

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