Potential Indian, Israeli and European customers attended an Arianespace event on 10 November to market the new 1.5t-to-low-Earth orbit Vega launcher, being developed by the European Space Agency (ESA).

At the event, held in Rome, representatives from the Indian Space Research Organisation, Israel Aircraft Industries and the UK’s Surrey Satellite Technology were among the 100 guests.

Arianespace will be the launch service provider for the rocket, for which 65% of the development costs are being provided by the Italian government.

“There is quite some interest. The 2007 maiden flight will be an ESA-only qualification flight. After that we will market demonstration flights to show dual-payload and micro-satellite capabilities,” says Arianespace’s business development vice-president Michele Franci.

The European institutions and companies in attendance included the satellite section of France’s CNES space agency, ESA’s Netherlands-based 
space research and technology centre, the Italian military, and Franco-Italian joint venture Alcatel Alenia Space.

Franci expects to carry out more marketing events, including one in the USA.

The organisation of the 10 November event was aided by the launcher’s three main contractors: European Launch Vehicle, which is a joint venture between Italian propulsion company Avio and the Italian space agency; Vitrociset, the Rome-based ground segment contractor; and Avio itself.

Vega has three solid propulsion stages and a liquid propulsion upper module for attitude and orbit control. 
Vega’s second-stage Zefiro 23 motor is expected to be test fired next month.

Source: Flight International