WASHINGTON — European launch provider Arianespace is planning to conduct a record number of Vega launches this year, and, if OneWeb is ready, a return to launching from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Stéphane Israël, CEO of Evry, France-based Arianespace, said the company has four launches of the light-lift Vega rocket planned for this year, plus the maiden flight of the next-generation Vega C.
Arianespace’s first mission of the year is an Ariane 5 launch on Feb. 5. The rocket will carry two satellites — Arabsat’s Saudi GeoSat-1/Hellas Sat-4 and the Indian space agency ISRO’s GSAT-31 — to geostationary transfer orbit.
All five Ariane 5 missions planned for this year will carry two satellites, as is customary, Israël said in an interview.
Israël said Arianespace has three firm Soyuz launches on its 2019 manifest, starting mid-February with the launch of 10 small telecom satellites for internet megaconstellation startup OneWeb. Israël said the second Soyuz launch is in March with four O3b satellites for fleet operator SES of Luxembourg. The third is a fall dual launch with the European Space Agency’s CHEOPs exoplanet telescope and the Italian Space Agency’s Cosmo-Skymed radar satellite.
Israël said those three Soyuz launches will ...