Flight International online news 09:30GMT: The European Space Agency's Vega launcher passed an important milestone last week with the successful completion of key tests on the solid rocket motor igniters.
The tests were carried out at the NAMMO explosives test range in the far north of Norway on 15 September. ESA says all the objectives of the test were fully met and development can go on to
the next step.
The Vega Programme, backed by all seven ESA member states, aims to develop a small single body launcher powered by liquid propulsion.
On completion Vega, 30 m tall and with a diameter of 3 m, will be able to place a 1.5
tonne payload into polar orbit.
ESA says it plans to launch Vega in 2007 and hopes this 'small' size launcher will be the perfect complement to the large Ariane 5 and the
medium-class Soyuz that is due to start operating from Europe's Spaceport in 2007.