Vega Completes 16th Successful Flight, Orbits 53 Satellites
(Source: French National Space Center; issued Sept. 03, 2020)
During the night of Wednesday 2 to Thursday 3 September, Vega accomplished a flawless launch from Europe’s spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), orbiting 53 satellites for 21 customers on the proof-of-concept flight of the new Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS).

The launch was the fourth this year from the CSG and the 16th flight for Vega since entering service at the launch base in 2012.

The SSMS project was proposed by Arianespace and developed with support from the European Space Agency (ESA) and Avio. It is designed to launch multiple small satellites from 1 to 500 kg to share launch costs between customers. The satellite dispenser was developed by Avio under ESA leadership and built by Czech company SAB Aerospace. Satellite integration was performed for the first time in Europe and the European Union contributed funding to this proof-of-concept flight.

The SSMS dispenser is composed of different modular components that can be assembled as needed in building-block style:

-- An upper portion with a central column, tower or hexagon, and a supporting platform, adjustable rods and dividers.

-- A lower portion, also using a hexagon-shaped module (Hexamodule), accommodating several cubesat deployers.

On this flight, Vega was carrying seven microsatellites (from 15 to 150 kg) on the upper portion and 46 smaller cubesats on the lower portion’s Hexamodule for 21 customers from 13 countries, including OSM-1 CICERO, making history as the first ever satellite launched for the Principality of Monaco. The lift-off mass was 756 kg and the satellites were placed into two Sun-synchronous orbits.

After the launch, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall said: “This 16th perfect launch for Vega confirms once again the excellence, availability and performance of the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s spaceport. I am delighted that the 21 customers with satellites on this flight chose to place their faith in us. I would also like to congratulate all of the teams at ESA, Avio, Arianespace and across the European space industry, and of course the teams at CNES, whose technical and operational prowess was once again on show.”

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Arianespace Gives a Lift to the Small-Sat Market with Vega’s SSMS Debut
(Source: Arianespace; issued Sept 03, 2020)
Vega begins its ascent from the Spaceport in French Guiana, carrying CubeSats and microsatellites on a flight to validate Europe’s innovative Small Spacecraft Mission Service.

With tonight’s successful Vega launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana, Arianespace has extended Europe’s access to space with a new capability to address the rapidly growing segment of small satellites.

Lifting off from the Spaceport’s Vega Launch Complex at 10:51 p.m. local time in French Guiana on September 2 – the planned precise moment of launch – Vega deployed 40-plus small CubeSats and seven microsatellites using a new-design rideshare dispenser system for the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS).

The satellite passengers on the SSMS Proof of Concept rideshare mission were released into Sun-synchronous orbits during a flight sequence lasting 1 hr. and 44 min. from liftoff to final separation, involving multiple deployments with the SSMS dispenser. These spacecraft will serve various applications – including Earth observation, telecommunications, science, technology and education.

SSMS: quality and reliability for customers

The SSMS dispenser is shown with its small-sat passengers prior to encapsulation in Vega’s protective payload fairing during activity at the Spaceport in French Guiana.

By choosing Arianespace and the SSMS rideshare, small satellite operators receive the same level of quality and reliability as the largest customers – while new operators such as laboratories, universities and start-ups are guaranteed optimum conditions for the launch of their space projects.

As a true European effort, the Small Spacecraft Mission Service dispenser system is a European Space Agency (ESA) product developed by Italy’s Avio under ESA leadership, and is produced by the Czech company SAB Aerospace s.r.o. (CZ). The European Union helped finance tonight’s Proof of Concept flight.

SSMS is based on simplified contractual clauses as well as a lean integration chain, with CubeSat integration and flight readiness performed for the first time in Europe, at the Czech Republic.

The Small Spacecraft Mission Service has been designed to be as market responsive as possible, able to accommodate any combination of customers. Regular follow-on SSMS flights are planned once the next-generation Vega C launcher begins operations.

Arianespace launches in 2020

Tonight’s success – designated Flight VV16 – was Arianespace’s sixth mission in 2020 (following three utilizing heavy-lift Ariane 5s and two with medium Soyuz vehicles), as well as the company’s first this year using a lightweight Vega.

Next up in Arianespace’s mission planning is a Soyuz launch from the Spaceport in French Guiana, with its liftoff scheduled for October 16.

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