Standing tall at the Spaceport in French Guiana, Vega has received its payload of 53 small satellites and is now undergoing final preparations for Arianespace’s June 18 maiden ride-share mission with the light-lift launcher.
During integration activity at the Spaceport’s SLV Launch Complex, the Vega was “topped off” with its upper composite, consisting of a new-design rideshare dispenser system carrying 46 small CubeSats and seven microsatellites weighing 15 kg. to 150 kg. – all of which are encapsulated in the launcher’s protective payload fairing.
Vega is ready for final preparations leading to Thursday’s nighttime liftoff on a proof of concept (PoC) mission lasting 1 hour, 44 minutes and 56 seconds, during which the payloads will be deployed in Sun-synchronous orbits for 21 customers from 13 countries.
Arianespace’s small-sat rideshare solution
The Vega rideshare concept, named the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS), provides Arianespace flight opportunities for nano- and micro-satellites, offering solutions perfectly suited to this flourishing sub-segment of the launch services market.
This week’s mission is designated Flight VV16 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, indicating Vega’s 16th liftoff from the Spaceport, where it operates along with the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and medium-lift Soyuz vehicles.
The SSMS rideshare satellite dispenser system is a European Space Agency (ESA) product developed by Italy’s Avio under ESA leadership, and is produced by the Czech company, SAB Aerospace s.r.o. For this week’s proof of concept flight, the European Union contributed to the financing.
For Flight VV16, the launcher’s seven microsatellites are installed on the dispenser’s upper portion, while the 46 smaller CubeSats have been positioned on the lower portion’s hexagon-shaped module.