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New European launcher awaits full funding

Tim Furniss

Europe's new small satellite launcher, Vega, makes its debut on the Aerospatiale stand in Hall 1. If it gets full development funding, the 26m high Vega will make it first launch from Kourou in 2002.

Commercial flights and transportation for European Space Agency (ESA) satellites will place payloads of between 700kg and 1,000kg into low Earth orbit (LEO). Launches will cost about $20 million.

Aerospatiale and Fiat Avio have proposed the joint development of the Vega in association with a small LEO satellite based on an 200kg to 500kg Aerospatiale Proteus spacecraft bus which could be used for comunications, remote sensing and science applications.

The Vega is not yet fully funded by ESA but has been allocated $48 million for the design of the vehicle and components, with Italy providing 55% of the funding.

France intends to be a major player, but has not yet committed any more funding than the current 8%.

The Vega first stage is based on the Europropulsion solid rocket booster for the Ariane 5, with nozzle gimballing but with less propellant.

The second stage is the Zephiro being developed by Fiat Avio and was the basis of a proposed Italian launcher.

This has already been successfully test fired.

The third stage will be a hybrid derivative of the Zephiro and French motors. The Vega will incorporate a liquid propellant third stage.

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