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Vega C Won’t Return to Flight Until Late 2024 

By Rachel Jewett | October 2, 2023

Rendering of the Vega C rocket. Photo ESA/Arianespace

The Vega C rocket is not expected to return to flight until the fourth quarter of 2024, the European Space Agency announced Monday. 

Vega C failed during its second mission in December 2022. An independent commission previously determined the failure dealt with the second stage Zefiro40 nozzle, but an updated Zefiro40 engine had significant damages during a test in late June. E

ESA set up another independent commission to study the anomaly, and released the results on Monday. The commission determined the anomaly had to do with the geometry of the carbon-carbon throat insert and thermo-mechanical properties of the new material. 

The commission said ESA and contractor Avio need to further improve the nozzle design of the Zefiro40 motor and conduct two more firing tests to ensure a fix has been made. 

Before the failed test, Vega C was expected to return to flight by the end of this year.

The issue does not affect the Vega rocket, and some Vega C launches have been reassigned to Vega. Arianespace is currently preparing to launch Earth observation satellites for Thailand and Taiwan on a Vega mission set for Friday, Oct. 6.