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Avio Joint Venture Wins Vega Launcher Study

The Italian Space Agency (ASI) has entrusted ELV S.p.A. (70% Avio S.p.A. and 30% ASI), Prime Contractor of the ESA VEGA programme, with the contract for the start-up of the second definition phase of the LYRA Programme, which will study possible evolutions of the European VEGA launcher.

This phase of the programme foresees the reinforcing of the configuration of the launcher and the system studies for the definition of the project, together with two important lines of development of innovative subsystems: one relative to a new propulsion system of liquid Oxygen-Methane entrusted to Avio, and the other regarding a navigation guidance control entrusted to ELV.

The objective of LYRA is to obtain a payload increase up to 2,000 kg in polar orbit at 700 km, without significant increase in launch service costs. The capacity to launch second-generation Cosmo-Skymed satellites and greater mission profile flexibility comprise the requirements of the project.

The propulsion activity concerns about 75% of the whole contract, and has strong applications significance: Avio will in fact have the task of producing a ground demonstrator in 1:1 scale of a new propulsion system called MIRA. The higher performance of the LYRA launcher, compared to VEGA, will be based on the introduction of a third stage with liquid oxygen-methane propellant, which will be developed starting from the MIRA demonstrator, substituting the current third stage of solid propellant (Zerfiro 9), and fourth stage of liquid propellant (AVUM), of Vega.

The contract has a four-year duration, and is the second step for the development of the programme for which Avio and ELV have already carried out the feasibility studies and, in this phase, is already included in the National Aerospace Plan, and will be subsequently proposed in the European area as an evolution of the ESA Vega programme.

In order to carry out the activity, ELV will avail itself of the collaboration of the Italian companies AVIO, DATAMAT and UTRI. AVIO, within the agreements between ASI and ROSCOSMOS (Russian Space Federation), will avail itself of the collaboration of Russian Company KBKha (Konstruktorskoe Buro Khimautomatiky), which has consolidated experience in liquid space propulsion.

The winning of this contract is of great strategic importance for the Avio Group and the Italian Space Agency, as it will allow the controlled ELV, responsible for the Vega launcher system, to consolidate its position as European systems integrator for Launchers. The acquisition of this new competence in liquid propulsion systems will allow Avio and ASI to play a leading role also in the preliminary programme of future launchers. Moreover, ASI will thus consolidate the collaboration with the Russian Agency ROSCOSMOS in the field of Space Launchers.

New Lyra Launcher Contract Assigned to ELV (Avio)