First Vega-C rocket stages reach Europe's Spaceport
(13 Dec 2021) The first elements of ESA's new-generation Vega-C launch vehicle have reached Europe's Spaceport (aka Centre Spatial Guyanais; CSG) in French Guiana.
Vega-C will replace the current Vega launch vehicle to offer more payload volume in the fairing, greater performance, for a wider range of missions at a price per kilogram of payload similar to Vega. Its first flight is planned in the first half of 2022 to launch LARES-2 and several CubeSats as secondary passengers.
MN-Colibri cargo ship reached Pariacabo harbour on 9 December carrying Vega-C's second stage Zefiro-40, and third stage Zefiro-9 solid rocket motor from Avio's Colleferro factory in Italy. Avio is prime contractor to ESA for the development of Vega-C launcher system and ground proximity means.
The Zefiro-40 is a new motor developed and manufactured by Avio. It is 7.6 m long and 2.4 m in diameter. It will burn for 92 seconds using about 36 t of solid propellant to generate an average thrust of 1300 kN which is four times greater than that of an engine of a modern passenger aircraft. This will propel Vega-C to an altitude of about 123 km.
The Zefiro-9 is 3.9 m long and 1.9 m in diameter. It will power Vega-C's third stage burning 10 t of solid propellant to take Vega-C to an altitude of about 190 km. It is an advanced version with a new igniter with respect to the one used on the Vega launch vehicle currently operating at Europe's Spaceport.
Further elements for Vega-C are expected to be shipped to French Guiana in 2022. These include: the first stage P120C insulated motor case which is also the booster for ESA's upcoming Ariane 6 launch vehicle; the upper stage AVUM+; and interstage structures.
Reference: ESA PR