Home Science Space Vega small-payload rocket makes maiden voyage to space

The Vettore Europeo di Generazione Avanzata or European Advanced Generation Carrier Rocket (Vega for short) was launched successfully into space on February 13, 2012. It will provide easy and inexpensive expendable launch system capabilities for much needed payloads of less than 2,000 kilograms in mass.

The 30-meter tall Vega rocket was launched at 07:00 local time (10:00 Greenwich Mean Time [GMT]) on February 13th.

It carried nine payloads into space - the largest one being the LARES (Laser Relativity Satellite). The 37-centimeter in diameter LARES, or Lares, consists of 92 reflectors that will allow very accurate laser-ranging measurements of Earth.

The Italian Space Agency (ISA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) developed VEGA for Arianespace, along with help from Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, and The Netherlands.

Designed to lift 300 to 2,000 kilograms of payloads into space, the VEGA rocket will normally lift 1,500-kilogram (3,300 pound) payloads into circular polar orbits of about 700 kilometers (430 miles) in height above Earth.

Vega, which was named after the second brightest star in the northern hemisphere, has three solid-rocket stages and one liquid fourth stage: (1) first being called P80, (2) second Zefiro 23, (3) third Zefiro 9, and (4) the liquid stage being named AVUM.

The BBC News article "Vega Launcher Makes First Flight" quotes Jean-Jacques Dordain, the director general of the ESA. Dordain stated, "A new member of the launcher family has been born.'

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University