2 reservations have been made by the Spaceflight Industries on the Arianespace’s Vega rocket for 2 rideshare missions. The Vega rocket is an Italian built payload dispenser which can accommodate CubeSats and small satellites to ride into an orbit.
The contract of a launch between the Arianespace and Spaceflight includes the launch of a specified number of CubeSats and a microsatellite on the first demonstration of the mission. The names and owners of the selected satellites to launch on the flight of proof-of-concept of Small Spacecraft Mission Service in 2019 have not yet been disclosed. The whole charge of identifying customers for the mission has been entrusted to Spaceflight.
The Vega rocket is expected to take off from Europe’s Guiana Space Center and head to a sun-synchronous polar orbit a few hundred kilometers above the surface of Earth. Spaceflight has signed agreements also with NASA for commercial rocket rides for its own CubeSats. There are also other companies that have agreements with Spaceflight like the Italian based Avio, which is a designer of SSMS and a top contractor for the Vega rocket. Another company is the SAB Aerospace, who are well known for SSMS structure’s carbon fiber.
The multi-satellite dispenser is expected to help the Vega Rocket take the smallsat launch market in its hand. The development is heavily funded by the European Commission and the European Space Agency. Russia’s Soyuz rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and India’s PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) have won the rideshare contracts of the lion’s share in recent years, with India’s PSLV having a record of 104 satellites launch in a single mission to the orbit.
As per the info was given by the ESA, the SSMS adapter will be able to accommodate up to 15 CubeSat deployers or small spacecraft. The Vega rocket has a record of 11 successful launches till this date which includes mainly the satellites for ESA, the European Commission and for governments of Kazakhstan, Morocco, Israel, Italy, Vietnam, Peru, and Turkey.
Two more Vega launches have been planned for this year. The satellites carried in these launches will be the Italian space company’s experimental Prisma Earth observation spacecraft and ESA’s environmental satellite, Aeolus, to measure winds on a global scale.
Three Italian made solid-fuel boosters stages, which are topped a fourth stage (liquid-fueled) capable of multiple restarts powers the Vega rocket. This allows the launcher to place different satellites into different orbits on a single mission.