Arianespace lost its Vega rocket to a mishap in the deployment process. The rocket was carrying two satellites for Spain and France. The Vega rocket left Guiana Space Center in Kourou about 9:00 p.m and made the first takeoff minutes successfully before losing control and heading to an uninhabited area.
Arianespace’s chief executive, Stéphane Israël, explained in a virtual interview that the rocket failed and they are investigating the cause before they address it concisely. The company reported that the upper stage derailed from its path, making a different projection due to the miscommunication with the control center.
Israël revealed that the speed of the rocket changed drastically before the catastrophic accident. Arianespace’s Officials attributed the change in speed as a bad connection between the fourth stage and the other part of the rocket, causing an imbalance in speed. The technical hitch resulted in AVUM dragging the rocket back, making it shift its trajectory and head back to Earth.
The rocket was hosting two satellites for Spain and France. The Spanish satellite is dubbed SEOSATO-Ingenio, while the French one was the TARANIS satellite from its CNES space agency. This failure is the company’s second after it also lost another rocket that was departing with a United Arab Emirates payload last year. In this incident, the engineers discovered that the motor had irregularities that destroyed the Vega rocket.
The company successfully deployed a similar rocket two and a half months ago, hosting 53 smallsats from over 20 different customers. The precedent mission is detrimental to the company’s reputation, and the executives apologized for this failure. The executives said they would check up on everything associated with this mission to exhume any underlying problems they did not tackle efficiently.
The company has launched an investigation team to identify the malfunction and other technical anomalies. SEOSATO-Ingenio was supposed to capture Earth’s images from space and relay them to the European Space Agency for further analysis. On the other hand, the TARANIS satellite would capture and relay data relating to the electrical phenomena taking place in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Avum stage’s initiation to power the rocket resulted in the shifting projection, and the engineers knew the rocket was going to fail. The other stages had soldiered on well running on fuel.
In conclusion, Arianespace has decided to devise a new Vega rocket that can handle the rocket’s capacity. Arianespace and the European Space Agency agreed to expand the Vega rocket’s payload capacity to accommodate heavier payloads.