Minutes after it launched from the spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, Europe's Vega C rocket was lost in space. The rocket was carrying two satellites part of the Airbus' Pléiades Neo Earth-imaging constellation but failed to deliver them in Low Earth orbit (LEO).
The medium-lift Vega C lifted off at 10:47 p.m. local time and just 2 minutes and 27 seconds into the flight an anomaly was detected. While the first stage burned successfully, the issue was with the second stage of the rocket dubbed Zefiro 40, which failed to deliver the satellites.
"Approximately 2 minutes and 27 seconds after liftoff an anomaly occurred on the Zefiro 40 thus ending the Vega C mission," Arianespace, which operates the Vega C rocket said in a statement. However, it did not address the issue in detail. The team is now conducting data analysis to better understand the anomaly.
The spacecraft was carrying Pléiades Neo 5 and Pléiades Neo 6 weighing 1977 kilograms and were set to be delivered in sun-synchronous orbit completing the Airbus constellation of Neo Earth-imaging satellites.
"The constellation is made of four identical satellites, built using the latest Airbus' innovations and technological developments, and allows to image any point of the globe, several times per day, at 30cm resolution. Highly agile and reactive, they can be tasked up to 15 minutes before the acquisition, and send the images back to Earth within the following hour," the company has said.
In 2021, Arianespace launched the first two Pléiades Neo satellites on board two separate Vega launchers. Pléiades Neo 5 and 6 were the 138th and 139th Airbus Defence and Space satellites to be launched by Arianespace.
"Thanks to an imaging swath of 14km, the widest in its category, and the satellites' unmatched agility, Pléiades Neo Constellation is able to cover the entire Earth landmass five times per year, the company said on the mission website for the launch.
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