The payload compartment of the Vega rocket was reinstalled on top of the launcher Aug. 26. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – P. Baudon
Following a series of delays in June due to unfavorable upper level wind conditions, a Vega rocket is set for launch Tuesday night from French Guiana to carry a cluster of more than 50 small satellites into orbit on Arianespace’s first smallsat rideshare mission.
The 53 satellites set to be deployed by the Vega rocket come from companies and institutions in 13 countries — including European Space Agency member states and the United States — with wide-ranging missions including Earth observation, space-based communications, and the demonstration of new technology in orbit.
The Vega rocket and its payloads were supposed to launch in June, but officials at the launch base in Kourou, French Guiana, deemed persistent upper level winds unsafe for the 98-foot-tall (30-meter) booster. After trying to launch the mission for two weeks, Arianespace announced July 1 that the flight would be postponed to recharge batteries on the Vega rocket and its payloads.
Before the string of launch attempts in June, the rideshare flight was on track for launch in late March. But ...