Arianespace wins Vega contract for Italian imaging satellite constellation

WASHINGTON — In a vote of confidence for a troubled launch automobile, Arianespace received a contract from the Italian authorities for as much as three Vega C launches of an Earth remark constellation.

Arianespace introduced March 14 it signed a contract with the European Area Company, performing on behalf of the Italian authorities, for launching the IRIDE constellation of imaging satellites. The contract contains two agency Vega C launches, beginning in late 2025, with an choice for a 3rd.

The IRIDE constellation, funded by the Italian authorities, will embrace 36 satellites constructed by a consortium of Italian firms that shall be geared up with a spread of imaging payloads, together with optical and radar. The constellation is called after the Italian phrase for iris.

The worth of the launch contract was not disclosed. The general IRIDE system, together with satellites, launch and floor methods, is estimated at 1.3 billion euros ($1.38 billion) and is funded by Italy’s Nationwide Plan for Restoration and Resilience, or PNRR, an initiative by the Italian authorities to assist the nation get well from the pandemic.

The announcement is the primary contract for the Vega C introduced since the completion of the investigation into the December 2022 launch failure on the automobile’s second mission, destroying two Airbus imaging satellites. That investigation concluded {that a} carbon-carbon part of the nozzle of the rocket’s second stage solid-fuel motor degraded after ignition, inflicting a lack of thrust that doomed the rocket.

With this contract “ESA repays the belief of the Italian authorities whereas confirming its confidence in Arianespace and within the Vega C launch system,” stated Simonetta Cheli, director of Earth remark at ESA, in a press release. ESA is supporting the Italian authorities on the event of IRIDE.

Throughout a panel on the Satellite tv for pc 2023 convention right here March 15, Stéphane Israël, chief government of Arianespace, confirmed plans introduced earlier within the month to return the Vega C to flight by the tip of the yr with launch of the Sentinel-1C radar imaging satellite tv for pc for Europe’s Copernicus program. That shall be preceded by a launch of the unique Vega automobile, seemingly by late summer time.

“We’re very mobilized with our companions to guarantee that Vega shall be successful,” he stated, referring to a workforce that features Avio, the prime contractor for Vega, in addition to ESA.

With this contract, he famous that Vega C’s backlog was now at 15 launches. He added that there have been “business negotiations ongoing” for the automobile as properly with unidentified prospects.

The launch contract was one of many few revealed throughout the convention, which historically had served as a stage for saying main satellite tv for pc and launch offers. Colorado-based EOI Area, previously generally known as Earth Observant Inc., introduced March 14 it prolonged an earlier contract with SpaceX for rideshare launches of its Stingray constellation of imaging satellites.

EOI Area stated that it’s going to now launch its first six Stingray satellites, designed to function in very low Earth orbits to enhance imaging decision, on Transporter rideshare missions beginning in 2024. The corporate stated final September it will launch its first satellite tv for pc in 2023 on a Transporter mission.

“Demand for fast transmissions of higher-resolution Earth imagery has skyrocketed lately,” stated Christopher Thein, chief government of EOI Area, in a press release. “We’re proud to be pioneering our first satellites by SpaceX’s famend rideshare program.”

EOI plans to in the end launch a 60-satellite constellation, however has not disclosed plans or schedules for deployment of that full constellation.


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