The European light launcher has just been awarded its fifteenth firm launch contract.
Good news in a time of crisis
This was one of the few announcements at the Satellite 2023 conference, held March 13-16 in the U.S. federal capital.
But the announcement must be putting a smile on the faces of Arianespace teams: the French launch operator announced on March 14 a new contract for its lightweight Vega C launch vehicle.
Good news that comes as the findings of the investigation into last December's VV22 mission accident continue to cause a stir within Europe's space...
A Constellation Named...
The contract was signed with the European Space Agency, acting on behalf of the Italian government.
It concerns three missions (two of which are firm) of Vega C for the low-orbit deployment of the future transalpine Earth observation constellation, named Iride (Iris, in Italian - not to be confused with the Iris2 European constellation project for connectivity).
Launches are announced to begin in the fourth quarter of 2025, from the Guyana Space Center.
The number of Iride satellites carried on each mission, as well as their unit mass, is not yet known.
The characteristics of the constellation (combining optical and radar capabilities) have not yet been revealed, while we are waiting to know which industrialist(s) will be selected by the Italian government to manufacture the satellites.
For the time being, Arianespace can be pleased to see the backlog of firm launches for Vega C, now scheduled to return to flight at the end of the year, now at 15
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