WASHINGTON – The fifteenth launch of a Vega European rocket ended in failure on July 10, resulting in the loss of an imaging satellite for the UAE.
The Vega rocket, built by the Italian manufacturer Avio, took off at 21:53. Orientale from Europe's Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, on the North Coast of South America.
The telemetry data indicated a deviation from the expected heading of the rocket by its second minute of flight. The rocket departed the planned trajectory during its second stage of combustion.
Arianespace of Evry, France, which markets the Vega rocket, confirmed the failure of the mission nine minutes after takeoff.
"About 2 minutes after takeoff, around [Zefiro]-23 a major anomaly has occurred, resulting in the loss of the mission, "said Luce Fabreguettes, executive vice president of missions, operations and purchases of Arianespace, during the webcast. "On behalf of Arianespace, I want to express our deepest apologies to our customers for losing their payload."
This failure is the first for Vega, a light transport vehicle designed to launch about 1,500 kilograms in a low Earth orbit. The four-stage launcher was commissioned in 2012 and is Arianespace's newest rocket.
Falcon Eye 1 was a 1,200-kilogram dual-use satellite designed to provide images for the commercial market as well as for the United Arab Emirates armed forces. Built by Airbus Defense and Space with an imaging payload from Thales Alenia Space, the satellite is based on Pleiades' high resolution imaging constellation technology in France.
From its targeted 611-kilometer orbit, Falcon Eye 1 was designed to image the Earth in high resolution, orbiting 15 times a day.
A second satellite, Falcon Eye 2, was to be launched on another Vega rocket later this year, although this deadline is now subject to change.
Arianespace had planned four Vega launches this year. The first took place on March 21st with the PRISMA satellite of the Italian Space Agency. The next scheduled meeting after Falcon Eye 1 was the carpool service for small spacecraft, previously scheduled for September, carrying 42 satellites.