Arianespace, ELV Sign Vega Accord
France’s Arianespace and Italy’s ELV have signed a collaboration agreement that would enable Vega rocket launches at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
ELV, as industrial prime contractor, will be in charge of production of the launcher’s components and integration at French Guiana. As the rocket design authority, ELV also will participate in final preparations and launch operations.
Arianespace will be the Vega operator and will take charge of the launch services contract. The France-based launch services provider also will be responsible for Vega launch facilities and integration of the upper segment and satellite, as well as for final preparation and launch operations.
Vega comprises three solid-propellant stages and a fourth stage with a re-ignitable liquid-propellant engine. It is scheduled to start operations in mid-2006. Primarily used for scientific and Earth observation satellites, Vega will be able to boost 1,500 kilograms into polar orbit at 700 kilometers. The Vega launcher is a European Space Agency program, financed by Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden.
Earlier this month, Arianespace launched two satellites aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. Those satellites were: the Optus and Defence C1 for the Australian operator Optus and the Australian Department of Defence, as well as BSAT-2c for the Broadcasting Satellite System Corp. (B-SAT) of Japan. The latter launch came about as part of a turnkey contract between the Japanese company and Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences [NYSE: ORB].