WASHINGTON – The fifteenth launch of a European Vega rocket failed on July 10, resulting in the loss of an imaging satellite for the United Arab Emirates.
The Vega rocket built by the Italian manufacturer Avio started at 21.53 clock. East of Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on the north coast of South America.
Telemetry data indicated a deviation from the intended course of the missile for its second minute of flight. The rocket left its intended course during its second firing.
Arianespace from Evry, France, who markets the Vega rocket, confirmed the failure nine minutes after launch.
"About 2 minutes after taking off, around the [Zefiro] -23 ignition, a serious anomaly occurred which led to the loss of the mission," said Luce Fabreguettes, executive vice president, missions, operations and purchasing at Arianespace, while starting the webcast. "On behalf of Arianespace, I would like to apologize to our customers for losing their payload."
Failure is the first for Vega, a light-lift vehicle designed to bring about 1,500 kilograms into near-Earth orbit. The four-stage launcher was put into operation in 2012 and is the latest rocket from Arianespace.
Falcon Eye 1 was a 1,200-kilogram dual-purpose satellite designed for both the commercial and United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. The satellite was built by Airbus Defense and Space with an imaging payload from Thales Alenia Space and is based on the technology of the high-resolution Pleiades imaging constellation in France.
Falcon Eye 1 was designed to mimic the earth in 611 km orbit at a high resolution of 15 revolutions per day.
A second satellite, Falcon Eye 2, should launch another Vega missile later this year, though this timeline is likely to change now.
Arianespace planned four Vega launches this year. The first took place on 21 March with the PRISMA satellite of the Italian Space Agency. The next planned mission to Falcon Eye 1 was the September planned Small Spacecraft Mission Service Rideshare with 42 satellites.