The launches of European Vega-C rockets will be suspended until an investigation commission establishes the exact causes of the malfunction that led to the failure of the first commercial flight on Tuesday, informs Agerpres. The mission commanders activated the self-destruct command after the missile deviated from the route.
Co-chaired by Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA), this independent commission will have the “responsibility to highlight the cause of the failure and propose robust and sustainable corrective actions to guarantee a return to safe and reliable flights of the Vega-C rocket”, a said Arianespace director Stephane Israel.
2 minutes and 24 seconds after its launch on Tuesday at 22:47 local time (Wednesday 01:47 GMT), the small European rocket’s trajectory deviated from the programmed one, and telemetry data then stopped reaching the hall of control from the Kourou Space Center in French Guiana.
Launched over the Atlantic Ocean, the rocket had exceeded the altitude of 100 kilometers and was then just over 900 kilometers north of Kourou.
The order to destroy the launcher was given by CNES, the French space agency. “No injury to a person or material damage was detected,” announced the company Arianespace.
According to Pierre-Yves Tissier, technical director at Arianespace, “the failure appears to be limited to Zefiro 40”, the second stage of the launcher built by the Italian group Avio. The flight data could be recovered and will be the subject of thorough analyses.
“We take full responsibility for this failure of the Vega-C rocket,” said Avio Group CEO Giulio Ranzo.
After the Vega-C rocket launches were suspended, Europe will no longer have independent access to space, after the two Ariane 5 rocket launches and two more scheduled with the Vega rocket (from which the Vega-C model is derived), which follow to be performed. The maiden flight of the Ariane 6 rocket is not scheduled until the third quarter of 2023.