Europe’s space institutions consider Ariane 6 and Vega-C

Stephen Kuper

The European Space Agency and Arianespace will give full support to European institutional customers to launch their missions on Ariane 6 and Vega-C.

Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s director of space transportation, and Stéphane Israël, CEO at Arianespace, welcomed about 100 attendees to a conference last week on Ariane 6 and Vega-C at ESA-ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

Ariane 6’s maiden flight has already been earmarked for the launch of OneWeb’s constellation satellites, and Vega-C for the launch of LARES. Three European institutional contracts have already been signed for Ariane 6 and Vega-C launch services, with others expected in the coming months.

"Ariane 6 and Vega-C are perfectly adapted to handle complex missions and are capable of meeting every mission requirement in full complementarity," Israël explained.

Low-cost launch opportunities based on a standardised regular service offered through ESA developed payload carrying structures on Ariane 6 and on Vega/Vega-C for light satellites, from CubeSats to minisats, were also discussed in dedicated technical sessions. 

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The first of the new payload carrying structures, the Small Satellites Mission Service, or SSMS, aimed to meet the needs of a thriving small satellites market, is set to launch on Vega this summer providing a rideshare opportunity for seven micro-satellites and 35 CubeSats. Its following launch will be on Vega-C in 2020.

The Multi Launch System for multiple payloads offered by Ariane 6 is well under development, with an initial mission planned for 2021. Compared with the current Vega, the exploitation of Vega-C will allow more launches per year for increased performance to more orbits.

Ariane 6 will come in two configurations (Ariane 62 with two boosters and 64 with four boosters), depending on mission requirements, to respond to institutional and market demand based on the Ariane 5 heritage and reliability.

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