New Delhi: The fifteenth launch of Ariansepace’s Vega rocket failed early on Thursday morning and a UAE imaging satellite was lost in the process. The Vega is a light-lift vehicle designed that has been in service since 2012 and has never failed before. It is designed to launch around 1,500 kilograms to the low Earth orbit.
The rocket lifted off at 9:53 pm Eastern on Wednesday (7:23 am IST on Friday) from Kourou in French Guiana. According to SpaceNews, during the second minute of its flight, telemetry data showed a deviation from the intended course. After the second ignition stage, it deviated from its course. The mission’s failure was confirmed nine minutes after liftoff.
“About 2 minutes after liftoff, around the [Zefiro]-23 ignition, a major anomaly occurred, resulting in the loss of the mission,” Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace’s executive vice president of missions, operations and purchasing, said during the launch webcast. “On behalf of Arianespace, I wish to express my deepest apologies to our customers for the loss of their payload.”
The UAE satellite that was lost was was the Falcon Eye 1, designed to provide imagery for the the UAE Armed Forces and commercial markets.
The Vega rocket was scheduled to launch a second UAE satellite, Falcon Eye 2, later this year but that is unlikely to occur now.
According to SpaceNews, Arianespace had four Vega launches planned for the year, of which one was successful on March 21, when the Italian Space Agency’s PRISMA satellite was launched.
Shares in Avio, the Italian space company that manufactures the rocket, were suspended on Thursday following a fall of nearly 15%. The shares fell after the Vega’s mission failed.