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Italy leads ESA interest in Vega K development

Development of the proposed European Vega K low Earth orbit launcher will depend on industrial funding of around Ecu70 million ($77 million) as well as the ECU350 million funding requested from interested member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) led by France and Italy. The Italian space agency says it could commit half of the project funding. The Vega K will be able to place 1,000kg into a 700km low Earth orbit (LEO) from Kourou, French Guiana, and will consist of a first stage based on the Italian-French Ariane 5 solid rocket booster, two Italian Fiat Avio Zefiro solid motors and a liquid propellant upper stage.

Italy has proposed a modified liquid engine made by NPO Yuzhnoye of Ukraine, but it would probably be replaced by a German liquid engine if the Vega K went ahead. Fiat Avio has proposed a smaller Vega, consisting of the two Zefiro stages and the Ukrainian liquid engine, as a complement to the Vega K.

The Vega K would join a fleet of proposed and funded small satellite launchers which are set to capitalise on the growing market for LEO mobile communications and multimedia satellites.

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