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Satnews Daily
October 9th, 2014

Arianespace' Lightweight Vega Prepped With IXV Spaceplane For Fourth Spatial Excursion

[SatNews] The Spaceport’s SLV launch site in French Guiana is busy with activity as the fourth lightweight Vega is readied for its mission with Europe’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane.

Vega assembly activity is highlighted in these images from the Spaceport. The Zefiro 23 second stage is moved into position and installed atop the vehicle’s P80 first stage in the photos at left and center, which was followed by integration of the Zefiro 9 third stage (right).

Photos are courtesy of Arianespace.

Build-up of this smallest member in Arianespace’s launcher family is being performed in a vertical assembly process on the SLV launch pad, protected by a mobile gantry that will be withdrawn prior to the vehicle’s liftoff. In the latest integration step this week, Vega’s Zefiro 9 solid propellant third stage was installed atop its lower two solid propellant stages—which were stacked during earlier preparations.

The mission’s IXV passenger—built by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency (ESA)—is an atmospheric reentry demonstrator designed to flight test technologies and critical systems for Europe’s future automated reentry systems as they return from LEO.

Follow Arianespace's launch activity at: http://www.arianespace.com.