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Cancellation of Vega flight VV17: Arianespace and ESA appoint an independent investigation committee

Initial early morning investigations with available data indicate that the most likely cause of the loss of vehicle control is an issue related to the AVUM fourth stage nozzle activation system integration. The launcher fell in a completely uninhabited area near the landing zone planned for the Zefiro-9 stage.

According to the standard protocols, Arianespace and ESA will set up an independent commission of inquiry on November 18th, chaired by Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation, and Stphane Isral, Executive Director of Arianespace. This commission will provide detailed evidence to explain why the necessary steps to identify and correct the integration error have not been taken. The Commission will prepare a timetable for Vega to resume flights under conditions of full reliability. Arianespace and ESA will jointly present the results of this commission.

I am thinking of everyone, especially CDTI and CNES, who worked with Ahnco on the two lost satellites, said Jan Wrner, ESA Director General. I will personally make sure we fully understand the root cause, but also that Vega returns with the strength and reliability of service it has demonstrated since it was first launched in 2012.

ESA developed SEOSAT-Ingenio as a Spanish national mission, although this was the result of international cooperation. It was funded by the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI) of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. Partners included Airbus Defense and Space, the main industrial contractor for the satellite. The Spanish mission for high resolution land images SEOSAT-Ingenio was developed to deliver high resolution images of the land cover. By capturing images with a high level of detail, the Mission would have helped society in many ways, such as land use monitoring, town planning and water management. With his ability to look sideways, he could have access anywhere on the planet within three days to map natural disasters like floods, fires, and earthquakes.

The director of ESA’s earth observation programs, Josef Aschbacher, said: We are all very sad about the loss of the terrestrial imaging mission SEOSAT-Ingenio. Despite this loss, I would like to remind you that we have achieved one hundred percent the other goal, which is to develop a solid expert knowledge of space systems in Spain. This was recently demonstrated with the signing of the contract with Spanish industry to lead the Copernicus LSTM expansion mission.

Vega is a 30 m high, four-stage launcher that operates from the European spaceport in French Guiana. It is designed for a payload of between 300 kg and 1.5 tons, depending on the orbit and height.

ESA’s upcoming Vega-C rocket, an even more powerful version of the Vega, offers 700kg more capacity and volume in a wider bonnet at a cost similar to Vega and allows even more passengers per joint launch. which significantly reduces the costs per kilogram.

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