Build-up of the lightweight Vega for Arianespace’s upcoming mission to orbit twin Earth Observation (EO) satellites is complete in French Guiana, with the OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs spacecraft now integrated with their launch vehicle.
During activity on the Spaceport’s SLV launch site, the two passengers — which are integrated in their payload fairing — were installed on Vega, topping off the vehicle composed of three solid-propellant stages and a liquid bipropellant upper stage. Vega will now undergo final preparations and checkout leading to a nighttime liftoff on August 1 for Arianespace Flight VV10, marking the 10th mission for this vehicle since its 2012 service entry.
As the smallest member in Arianespace’s launcher family, Vega complements the company’s medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5 in providing a full range of launch services for customers worldwide. ELV/Avio is the vehicle’s production prime contractor.
To be deployed first during the mission to Sun-synchronous orbit is OPTSAT-3000, an EO satellite for the Italian Ministry of Defense. Built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) based on inter-governmental Italian-Israeli agreements, the satellite will enable national defense entities to acquire and use high-resolution images from any part of the globe. The OPTSAT-3000 system was supplied by Telespazio as prime contractor, which has responsibility for the entire system: from the satellite to the ground segment, launch and early operation services, the preparation and execution of operations and logistics, through to in-orbit tests and commissioning. OHB Italia is responsible for the launch services and related engineering support. With a design life exceeding seven years, OPTSAT-3000 has a liftoff mass of 368 kg.
Riding in the lower payload position on Vega is Venµs, an EO and exploratory mission for the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) and France’s CNES space agency for the benefit of the Israeli Ministry of Science & Technology. As the first Israeli-made satellite created for environmental research purposes, Venµs was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries’ Space Division, with Rafael providing the propulsion system. The spacecraft has a liftoff mass set at 264 kg. CNES is in charge of the multi-spectral camera, its image programming and processing, as well as the distributing ground station, with the camera’s development performed for CNES by Elbit Electro-Optic Systems Elop Ltd. Venµs — which is the acronym for “Vegetation and Environment on a New Micro Satellite” — will study the evolution of the Earth’s vegetation during its scientific mission, while the satellite’s technological mission will provide in-flight qualification of the Israeli Electrical Propulsion System, based on Hall-Effect thrusters.
Flight VV10 will be Arianespace’s eighth mission of 2017 and follows the launches of four Ariane 5s, two Soyuz vehicles and one Vega so far this year.