ESA planned launch of Vega rocket with LISA Pathfinder atop from launch pad ELV in French Guiana.
European Space Agency is going to continue tests before finishing eLISA (Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) program in 2034. This time Lisa Pathfinder, technology demonstrator built by Airbus Defense and Space will provide necessary data for measuring gravitational waves. Launched on Vega rocket with mounted LVA (Launch Vehicle Adapter) – special Pathfinder spacecraft will be lifted to LEO. Next, it will be separated with small pyrotechnical charges and with its propulsion module flew to correct orbit. After that, propulsion module and Pathfinder will be separated just like with LVA. Spacecraft is equipped with X band transponder with 7 kbit/s bandwidth, gathering data will provide one Laser interferometer and Disturbance Reduction System. Pathfinder weights 1,910 kg.
This mission is not only important for ESA. Vega rocket with successful launches is chance for build up position of Italian space industry and ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) on the market. Vega was designed in the cooperation of Italy (65%), France (13%) and other countries (Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden) is first rocket build with such significant participation of Italy. It was designed as solid fueled three stage rocket with upper module divided for two parts: APM (AVUM Propulsion Module) and AAM (AVUM Avionics Module). First stage is a P80 engine with thrust at 2261 kilonewtons, second stage propulsion is Zefiro-23 engine with thrust at 871 kilonewtons. Third stage is powered by Zefiro-9 engine with thrust at 260 kilonewtons. Upper module is equipped with single liquid fueled RD-843 engine (thrust at 2.42 kilonewtons). All three stages and AVUM (Attitude Vernier Upper Module) are made by Avio Company. Total length of the rocket is 30 m with diameter at 3m and weight at 137000 kg. Offered payload is with range from 1450 kg to 1963 kg. Rocket is designed especially for missions to polar and sun-synchronous orbits and it can be considered as potentially competitive for Minotaur IV, Minotaur-C and Rokot.