Arianespace, ELV Sign Vega Launcher Accord
France’s Arianespace and Italy’s ELV have signed a collaboration agreement that would allow Vega launches and operations 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 launcher design authority, ELV also will participate in final preparations and launch operations.
Arianespace will be the Vega operator, and is in charge of the launch services contract. It will be responsible for Vega launch facilities and integration of the upper segment and satellite. It will also carry out 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. Separately, Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said that his company’s backlog of satellites to be launched totaled 40 on June 16. Arianespace has launched five satellites and one interplanetary probe so far this year. A mission last week included the launch of two satellites aboard the Ariane 5.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 as part about as part of a turnkey contract between the Japanese company and Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences [NYSE: ORB].