French launch provider Arianespace announced that it has signed an agreement with Italian rocket maker Avio to purchase 10 Vega C rockets.
The agreement signed on March 19 in Rome, Italy kicks off the procurement of long-lead-time items for the production of 10 launch vehicles slated to be delivered from 2023. The order is the fourth batch of Vega rockets purchased by Arianespace and the first to comprise only of Avio’s next-generation Vega C launch vehicle.
“We are delighted to receive a new batch order for Vega C, which confirms Arianespace’s customers’ interest and trust in the new launcher product, which is the result of an effective cooperation among several European industries under Avio’s leadership,” said Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo.
Arianespace’s commitment to the rocket maker’s next-generation small launch vehicle comes as Avio is preparing to return the Vega rocket to flight.
A Vega rocket launched in November 2020 failed, which resulted in the destruction of two European satellites valued at nearly $400 million. Following an investigation conducted by Arianespace and the European Space Agency, a pair of misconnected cables on the rocket’s Avum upper stage were identified as the cause of the failure.
With the results of the investigation, Avio received a number of recommendations including the improvement of the rocket maker’s quality control procedures, and the reexamination of two vehicles that had already been prepared for launch.
According to both Arianespace and Avio statements, the new batch of Vega C launch vehicles will be utilized for strategic European objectives. This will, in part, include the launch of at least three European Copernicus Earth observation satellites.
The European Copernicus programme aims to provide accurate, timely and accessible information to assist with managing the environment, mitigating the effects of climate change, emergency management, and civil security.
The Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer (CIMR), Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission (CHIME), and Copernicus Land Surface Temperature Monitoring (LSTM) satellites are all confirmed to be assigned to Vega C missions and are slated to be launched in 2028 and 2029.