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The Vega programme has its origins back in the 1990s, when studies in several European countries investigated the possibility of complementing the performance range offered by the Ariane family of launchers with a capability for smaller payloads. Although there is a growing tendency for satellites to become larger, there is still a need for a small launcher to place 300 kg to 2000 kg satellites, economically, into the polar and low-Earth orbits used for many scientific and Earth observation missions....
Vega is designed to cope with a wide range of missions and payload configurations in order to respond to different market opportunities and provide great flexibility. Unlike most small launchers, Vega is able to place multiple payloads into orbit. In particular, it offers configurations able to handle payloads ranging from a single satellite up to one main satellite plus six microsatellites.
Vega is compatible with payload masses ranging from 300 kg to 2500 kg, depending on the type and altitude of the orbit required by the customers. The benchmark is for 1500 kg into a 700 km-altitude polar orbit.
Join us for the first qualification flight of the Vega launch vehicle on Monday 13 February, with a launch window open from 11:00 to 14:00 CET (10:00 to 13:00 GMT). Vega will lift off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, to release nine satellites into orbit and add a new capability to Europe's fleet of launch systems. Live transmission starts at 10:40 CET.
13 February 2012 PR 3 2012 - Vega, ESA’s new launch vehicle, is ready to operate alongside the Ariane 5 and Soyuz launchers after a successful qualification flight this morning from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.