Arianespace Wins ESA Vega Contract; ELV to Deliver Five Launchers
[Satellite TODAY 09-10-10] Arianespace has signed a production contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to produce the first operational Vega rocket launch, Arianespace announced Sept. 8.
The deal is part of an ESA Vega program that is jointly financed by Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden.
Arianespace also signed a framework agreement with Vega prime contractor ELV to deliver five launchers to Arianespace. ELV, based in Colleferro, Italy, is 70 owned by Avio and 30 percent owned by the Italian space agency ASI.
Arianespace will start operation of the new Vega launch system in 2011, alongside the Ariane 5 heavy launcher and the Soyuz medium launcher. Vega is a small launch vehicle with three solid-propulsion stages, and a fourth stage with a re-ignitable liquid rocket engine. Used primarily to launch small satellites into low Earth orbit or Sun-synchronous orbit, Vega will offer payload capacity of 1,500 kg into polar orbit at 700 km altitude.
Financial details of the contracts were not disclosed.