VEGA full scale first tests
[Aerial views: ela2, ela3, Vega launch zone]
Even on a blustery, overcast day aerial shots of the European Spaceport
always provide spectacular views. Seen between the former Ariane-4
launch zone, and that of the Ariane 5 in the foreground, there now stands
the Vega launch complex, the site used by the very first Ariane to lift off
from French Guiana.
Now reconverted for Vega, it is comprised of a mobile gantry in which the
launcher is assembled and fuelled whilst positioned above the pad. The
gantry is then withdrawn leaving the launcher ready for final checks and
Vega is an entirely new European-developed small launcher, tailored to
placing a wide variety of medium to small sized satellites, around the 1.5
to 2.0 tonne class, into low Earth orbits.
[End aerial views]
Leading up to the dry run tests in April, the full-scale flight representative
mock up of the launcher had been fully integrated, with the stacking of its
three solid propellant stages, loaded with inert propellant, upper module
The so-called P80 stage, 3 meters in diameter, 11 meters tall, was already
in position when the second stage was hoisted into the gantry and
positioned. This Zefiro-23 core stage is narrower, 1.90 meters and 8
meters long. For the mission team, seeing their launcher being assembled
for the first time was a major event.
[Hoisting Zefiro-9 and mating]
Then came the turn of the same diameter, but shorter 4 meter Zefiro-9
third stage. It too was moved into position and stacked.
[Installation of the AVUM]
The upper-most stage is the Attitude Vernier Upper Module, with a liquid
propulsion engine and housing all the rocket’s avionics. With its re-
ignitable engine, and sophisticated attitude control AVUM will allow Vega
to place satellites into a wide variety of orbits.
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[Arrival & hoisting and positioning of fairing]
No launcher would be complete without the fairing that protects the
payload during the flight through the denser parts of the atmosphere.
Made of two half-shells, the Vega fairing is 2.6 meters in diameter and
nearly 8 meters tall.
[Night gantry withdrawl]
The vehicle’s dry-run tests were performed in conditions to cover all
possible launch situations. The gantry was pulled back once during the
night, providing spectacular views of the 30-meter tall launcher and once
again during the day.
[Daytime gantry withdrawl & GV]
These trials confirmed that the vehicle and the pad installations could
resist high winds prior to liftoff. Temperatures, ventilation in particular in
the fairing and avionics, and umbilical systems were also successfully
tested. A final countdown ran through all the launch operations.
Testing is continuing, notably on the avionics and flight control systems
and the fuelling of the AVUM. In the coming months, a Flight Readiness
Review will be giving the final green light for Vega’s first qualification
flight, targeted for the end of this year.
10:04:07 Zefiro-23 arrival - 18 January 2011
10:06:03 Zefiro-9 arrival & hoisting - 19 January 2011
10:08:22 Hoisting of the AVUM protective cover & AVUM installation - 31
10:10:07 Fairing, preparing for transfer - 10 February 2011
10:11:48 Transfer of the fairing and installation on the AVUM - 11
10:14:27 Night time withdrawl of the gantry - 4 April 2011
10:16:34 Daytime withdrawl of the gantry & GV - 7 April 2011
10:17:33 Aerial shots of Kourou and the Vega launch zone - 7 April 2011
10:19:11 End of B-Roll
10:19:21 End of tape
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