Delayed a year by a launch failure, the coronavirus pandemic and a stretch of stiff upper level winds this summer, an Italian-made Vega rocket vaulted into orbit from French Guiana on Wednesday night and deployed 53 small satellites from 13 countries to punctuate a flawless return to flight mission.
After an unusual stretch of excessive high-altitude winds prevented launch from French Guiana of 53 small satellites on a Vega rocket in June — and no sign of a letup in winds in the coming days — Arianespace said Wednesday that the mission will be delayed to Aug. 17 to allow time for teams to recharge launcher and payload batteries.
After months of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Arianespace scrubbed back-to-back Vega launch attempts Saturday and Sunday due to unfavorable high-altitude winds over the European-run Guiana Space Center in South America. The Vega rocket is awaiting launch on a rideshare mission carrying 53 small satellites into orbit for 21 customers in 13 countries.
European Space Agency member states on Thursday committed nearly 12.5 billion euros ($13.8 billion) to fund ESA programs over the next three years, promising money to grow Europe’s fleet of satellites studying Earth’s changing climate, contribute to NASA-led lunar exploration efforts, and continue ESA’s participation in the International Space Station until 2030.
An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off and successfully deployed a military electronic surveillance satellite and 28 nanosatellites for companies in the United States, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland at two different altitudes Monday, before the rocket’s upper stage began an extended mission as a solar-powered experiment platform in low Earth orbit.
India debuted a new configuration of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, featuring four strap-on boosters and an upper stage with solar arrays to generate electrical power, with a liftoff at 0357 GMT Monday (11:57 p.m. EDT Sunday). The mission lofted an Indian military satellite and 28 nanosatellites for companies in the United States, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland.