Engineers believe super-hot gas from burning solid propellant impinged on the structure of the second stage on a European Vega launcher during a failed flight in July, causing the vehicle to break apart minutes after liftoff from French Guiana with a reconnaissance satellite for the United Arab Emirates, the CEO of Italian rocket-maker Avio said Monday.
Fifty years to the day after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, a NASA astronaut, an Italian flight engineer and a Russian commander blasted off from Kazakhstan Saturday aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, chased down the International Space Station and glided in for a picture-perfect docking.
A veteran Russian commander, Italian flight engineer and a rookie NASA astronaut lifted off at 1628 GMT (12:28 p.m. EDT) Saturday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, kicking off a six-hour flight to the International Space Station. The crew docked with the station at 2248 GMT (6:48 p.m. EDT).
A Vega rocket fired into orbit Thursday night from French Guiana with Italy’s PRISMA hyperspectral Earth-imaging satellite, commencing a busy period for the Vega launcher program as engineers prepare for the debut of the more powerful Vega-C booster in early 2020 and study a lighter variant to better compete in the growing smallsat launch market.