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Vega-C Launch Vehicle In Qualification Phase Prior To Maiden Launch

An artist’s rendering of the Vega-C launch vehicle. Image courtesy of ESA.

The Vega-C launch system recently passed its Critical Design Review and is now ready to complete manufacturing and final testing as part of the qualification phase.

This Critical Design Review is a major milestone. Independent experts from ESA, national institutions and industries confirmed the consistency and maturity of the entire Vega-C launch system design, authorising the programme to enter the design qualification phase for the inaugural flight planned in the first quarter of 2020.

The review included all the elements of the Vega-C launch system, as well as integration activities for the launch base and launch range.

It encompassed all detailed design aspects and test campaigns performed on all launch system elements, such as the solid rocket motors (P120C and Z40), structural components, avionics equipment, and related integrated system aspects.

The review Board meeting, chaired by Toni Tolker Nielsen, ESA’s Inspector General, and Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation, concluded the review by commending the teams, and giving the green light to proceed to the next phase.

“This critical milestone was achieved thanks to the extraordinary commitment of all industry involved in the Vega-C development to meet the challenging objectives and planning of the programme. This timely success shows that we are on track,” commented Giorgio Tumino, Vega Development Programme Manager.

Qualification tests will verify the design and manufacturing processes, assembly and flight hardware and software, and associated ground support systems. Simulations will show the space and ground segment work together as they should.

Stefano Bianchi, ESA’s Head of Space Transportation Development Department added: “We have a challenging twelve months ahead, starting with four Vega launches between March and November and ending with the maiden flight of Vega-C. We have an exceptional team within European industries and Agencies, to meet these challenges!”

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