The Vega rocket launched Europe's small lift vehicle for the 19th time, the 2nd Vega launch of 2021, and the 17th Arianespace mission of the year. On Monday, August 16, at 10:47 p.m. local time, Arianespace flight VV19 took out from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.
Pleiades-Neo 4 Earth observation satellite, one of four improved Pleiades spacecraft to be manufactured and managed by Airbus Defence and Space to deliver Earth images to clients across the world, was onboard. Four auxiliary payloads from the European Space Agency and private operator Unseenlabs joined Pleiades-Neo 4.
Arianespace CEO Stéphane Isral said in a statement that the company once again displays the extraordinary adaptability of Vega with the recent mission. Isral said they safely placed the second Pléiades Neo 4 constellation satellite, ESA's cubesats, and French start-up Unseenlabs to space on behalf of Airbus.
How the Launch Went
RemoNews said Vega Rocket's first stage ignited at T-0 with 3040 kN of thrust. The rocket swiftly ascended into the sky from French Guiana on a northern course into a sun-synchronous orbit.
The motor burnt out about two minutes after launch. The Zefiro-23 second stage, another Italian-built Avio solid rocket motor, operated for around 90 seconds after stage separation.
Zefiro 9 third stage, Avio's solid-propellant, was lit nearly four minutes into the flight. The fairing separated five seconds later. After six minutes, the Zefiro 9 burnt out and separated. The AVUM liquid-fueled fourth stage ignited just after eight minutes.
Around T+15:50, the AVUM's first burn concluded, putting the stage and payload into an initial parking orbit. Following that, the stage and payloads coasted until a second burn.
The Airbus Spain-built AVUM (Attitude Vernier Upper Module) is powered by a Yuzhnoye Design Bureau-supplied Ukrainian RD-843 engine. Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) fuels the stage, which is oxidized by dinitrogen tetroxide.
About the Satellites
Space.com said Airbus Defence and Space developed managed the principal payload called Pléiades Neo 4. It is the second of four Earth observation spacecraft they have yet. Meanwhile, they are expected to Pléiades Neo 5 and Pléiades Neo 6 next year.
According to Arianespace, the Pléiades Neo satellites will provide sharper resolution, better geolocation accuracy, and revisits for "top-level Earth observation services today and in the future over the next decade.
SUNSTORM will use a novel solar X-ray spectrometer to detect and describe solar flares, or coronal mass ejections, while LEDSAT will use Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to track orbiting satellites. RADCUBE, on the other hand, will use small satellites for space weather monitoring, and SUNSAT will use an efficient solar X-ray spectrometer to examine solar flares.
Breizh Reconnaissance Orbiter (BRO-4), meanwhile, is the fourth Unseenlabs' maritime surveillance network's satellite. Unseenlabs are expected to describe and geolocate ships at sea. According to the announcement, the business plans to launch between 20 and 25 nanosatellites for its constellation by 2025.
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