Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ESA Launchers: Europe’s new, small launcher takes shape

A full-scale mock-up of the new Vega launcher has been assembled on the vehicle’s launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana as part of the combined test campaign before the maiden flight later this year.

Last November saw the start of mechanical integration with the transfer of the launcher’s first-stage model, the P80 solid-propellant stage, to the pad.

The mock-ups of the other three stages, Zefiro-23, Zefiro-9 and AVUM, and the payload composite were then transferred and integrated in the mobile gantry, where launch preparations take place.

Payload composite before integration with launcher
Vega assembly was completed last week with the addition of the payload composite, comprising a payload mock-up, the payload adapter and the fairing.

The composite was first transferred from the payload preparation building to the launch zone and then hoisted onto the vehicle.

Launch system undergoes final tests
The combined testing phase now involves the verification of mechanical and electrical interfaces between the vehicle and the ground segment.

It includes the validation of operational procedures for integration of the launcher, the checkout verification, the loading of liquid propellants and the final preparation and readiness for countdown.

ESA - Launchers Home - Europe’s new, small launcher takes shape

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