The Vega rocket, operated by the European consortium Arianespace, lifted off on Sunday evening from the Kourou base in French Guiana to place two Earth observation satellites and three small satellites into orbit to monitor the inland waters of the Iberian Peninsula.
The three small satellites belong to an experimental program led by the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) from Spain and the European Commission, to monitor the inland waters of the Iberian Peninsula, specifically reservoirs and salt marshes.
Arianespace said in a statement that the first of two Earth observation satellites, THEOS-2, was built by Airbus and will be operated by the Gestda Geospatial Information Technology Development Agency in Thailand.
The satellite will provide 50cm resolution images on Earth and will complement the information provided by Theos-1, which was also launched in 2008 for Thailand.
The second is Formosat-7R/Triton, developed by the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA), and is equipped with a system that allows it to pick up signals reflected on the sea surface, which will be used to calculate winds at sea. Oceans, in this way, help predict the intensity and path of hurricanes.
Today’s mission, initially scheduled for Saturday, was called VV23 and is the penultimate mission of Vega in its initial version, awaiting the entry into service of the successor to Vega-C, which will only happen at the end of 2024, after the delays that have followed. The first commercial mission failed last December.
The problem for the Europeans is not limited to this small missile. Rather, the Ariane 6 program, which will succeed the Ariane 5 missile, is also suffering from major delays, and the first launch is scheduled to take place only next year, at an unannounced date. .
Added to this is the fact that the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to the collapse of cooperation between Arianespace and Moscow on launch pads, meaning that the Russian Soyuz spacecraft no longer operates from Kourou, and the consortium has no replacement solution to offer customers. Which has commitments to launch satellites into orbit.
The last mission of the classic Vega vehicle, which made its maiden flight in 2012, is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024.
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