The first flight of ESA’s new rocket Vega-C, built in Italy, has successfully concluded.
Vega-C lifted off from the European Spaceport in French Guiana at 15:13 CEST on July 13th. The mission lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes, releasing into orbit Lares-2, a scientific satellite of the Italian Space Agency ASI, and six CubeSats built by European universities and research institutes.
Vega-C is a single-body rocket about 35 m high with a mass at liftoff of 210 tonnes. It is made in Italy by Avio with the support of several industrial partners from 13 ESA member states. Vega-C represents a dramatic capability boost compared to Vega. It can carry heavier weights and release loads on three different orbits. In addition, compared with Vega, the new rocket has a reduced environmental impact and produces less space debris on re-entry to Earth.
“With the successful inaugural launch of Vega-C, Europe is equipped with the first of a new generation of better-performing launchers. These new launchers will allow us to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging,” Giorgio Saccoccia, president of the Italian Space Agency, commented.
“At the same time, being at the forefront of the European VEGA program with Avio, Italy strengthens its leading position in the space transportation sector. Finally, for ASI and Italy, today represents a double success, having put into orbit the LARES-2 satellite, highly anticipated by the scientific community, another sector of excellence of our country,” Saccoccia concluded.
Italian Innovation Minister Vittorio Colao underlined that the launch of Vega-C confirms Europe’s leadership and competitiveness in the space sector. The Italian government, said Mr. Colao, is proud of the “decisive contribution of the Italian industry to the European space sector, which can now count on a more advanced and competitive mid-size launcher.“
“With Vega-C,” Mr. Colao added, “Italy is now the only country in Europe (together with France) and one of the few in the world to have independent access to space.”
“Let’s remember that it is a European success because Italy has done half of the work, but there are 13 other nations involved,” Mr. Colao then concluded.
Vega-C confirms Italy’s central role in ESA’s attempt to remain competitive in the space transportation sector. As it begins operations, development continues. An even more sustainable and better-performing variant, Vega-E, is expected to make its first flight in 2026.