Earlier this month, a report emerged that two tanks were being prepared for the European space rocket Vega (on its last launch) was initially lost and then found destroyed due to some internal problems aviation. Initially ESA had neither confirmed nor denied what was declared, suggesting that it was the Italian company that had to make the declarations. In recent days there has been confirmation that the report is true.
The destruction of the tanks officially meant a postponement of the start Vega space rocket from spring 2024 to September (The day is not specified). The information was disseminated during the ESA Council meeting that took place on December 14th. Toni Tolker Nielsen (ESA Director of Space Transport) explained this “Avio has confirmed to ESA that there is a problem with the fuel tanks for Vega’s final flight”.
The extra time that aviation And ESA The information we provided for the recent launch of this version of the European space rocket could be useful for adapting the AVUM+ stage tanks used on the Vega-C (the next version). However, intact tanks used for carrier certification that were built more than a decade ago and would therefore pose further risk will not be used.
Vega’s latest launch was originally intended to place the Biomass vegetation Earth monitoring satellite into orbit. Instead, it was decided to use this vector to launch the Sentinel-2C Earth monitoring satellite while another carrier will be found for biomass (a new launch on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is not ruled out).
At the moment, the situation of European launchers is extremely critical, considering that the Ariane 6 will be launched next summer if all current tests go well. Vega-C will only fly in a window between mid-November and mid-December next year, Vega in September 2024. No other vectors are available, although development of new solutions appears to be progressing (far behind the competition).