Vega flies successfully to space with Portuguese technology

4 September 2020

Vega VV16 is, finalyy, taking 53 satellites into space. This launch features Portuguese technology and the novelty of being the first rideshare service to light satellites.

The Vega VV16, a rocket developed in consortium by ESA (European Space Agency), CNES (Centre National de L’Études Spatiales), Arianespace and Avio, was launched at 2h51 (Lisbon time), at the Kourou space port, in the French Guiana.After the failure in 2019 and the successive postponements due to the pandemic and the lack of favorable weather conditions, the Vega VV16 rocket headed into space taking 53 satellites with different sizes, origins and purposes.

This flight, which lasted about two hours, paves the way for a new rideshare service for the deposit of light satellites in space. Through a new SSMS (Small Spacecraft Mission Service) dispenser, Vega releases the satellites in a progressive coordinated sequence in two different Sun-synchronous orbits.

This is an important step for the space sector, as it marks the beginning of the “rideshare” concept, which significantly reduces the cost of launching a satellite into space.

 

The Portuguese Contribution

About half of the 53 satellites carried at Thursday’s launch come from European states. Portugal has a very significant involvement in the content carried by this rocket, mainly through the work of DEIMOS Engenharia, D-Orbit and EDISOFT (all Cluster members). These three companies take part in different contexts:

  • DEIMOS, in partnership with Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, led the consortium responsible for the FSSCat Mission, winner of the Copernicus Masters S3 prize. On board of the Vega VV16, this Federated Satellite System mission launched two Earth Observation satellites, which will communicate with each other, aim to collect data and information that can be used to prevent fires and combat climate change.
  • D-Orbit has one of its microsatellites also on board – the ION SCV LUCAS -, which takes 12 more small satellites to its ride and whose operation stands as a significant milestone in compliance for the world of 3D printed space hardware. This was the first ECSS compliant 3D printed bi-propellant propulsion system to be allowed to be launched to space.
  • EDISOFT contributes its RTEMS software for the 113kg microsatellite, ESAIL. The software component is part of the command and control system, which aims to support the algorithms and calculations that ensure the safety of the world’s maritime routes through space.

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