Tonight (April 28), the Vega rocket is due to launch a new Earth observation satellite and several other small payloads for the return mission into orbit, and you can watch it live.
European launch provider Arianespace aims to launch at 9:50 pm ET (01:50 am ET, April 29) from the Guiana spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana. You can watch the launch live here at Space.com, courtesy of Arianespace, or directly on the company’s YouTube.
The mission, which Arianespace has named VV18, will be Vega’s 18th mission and the first since the Vega’s failed launch in November, when satellites from France and Spain were lost.
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The Vega rocket will orbit an Earth observation satellite called Pléiades Neo 3, the first of four Earth observation satellites for a new constellation of satellites created and operated by the German aerospace company Airbus Defense and Space. A second satellite, Pléiades Neo 4, is slated to launch in June, followed by Pléiades Neo 5 and Pléiades Neo 6 in 2022, completing the constellation.
“From 30 cm [12 inches] Resolution, best-in-class geolocation accuracy and twice-daily return visits, the four Pléiades Neo satellites open up new possibilities with maximum reactivity, ”Arianespace said in the mission statement.
Five additional payloads will be delivered to orbit from Pléiades Neo 3. Shared payloads include the Norwegian Space Agency’s NorSat-3 radar detector for maritime navigation, a nanosatellite called “Bravo” for Aurora Insight, two Lemur-2 weather satellites and a tracking satellite. ships. for the Tyvak-182A satellite by Spire and Eutelsat (also known as Eutelsat ELO alpha).
The stakes are high for today’s return to flight. Vega missiles suffered two recent failures after a series of 14 successful missions between 2012 and 2019. Vega’s first failure occurred in July 2019, when an engine problem led to the loss of the Falcon Eye 1 satellite in the United Arab Emirates. Vega successfully returned to flight in September 2020, launching 53 satellites into orbit. Then the next launch ended in failure, just two months later.
Since the rocket debuted in 2012, Vega has launched a total of 17 missions, of which 15 were successful and two unsuccessful. The VV18 mission will mark the 18th Vega launch and the first Vega launch of the year. This will be the third launch of Arianespace this year after two OneWeb missions launched on Soyuz rockets.
Email Hannekes Catering at hweitering@ or follow her on Twitter @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.