Astrium is involved in the European small launcher programme Vega, initiated in 1998. Vega’s specified payload capacity is 1,500kg for a circular orbit at an altitude of 700km
The launcher is marketed by Arianespace and launched from the European Spaceport at Kourou in French Guyana. The Vega configuration consists of three solid propellant stages: the P80 first stage, the Zefiro 23 second stage, the Zefiro 9 third stage and an upper liquid propulsion module, called AVUM.
Astrium’s main contributions are the guidance and control algorithms, the on-board software, the attitude control system and avionics equipment reused from Ariane 5. Astrium is also directly involved in the launcher integration activities in French Guiana and contributes through its subsidiaries to the avionics (Astrium Spain), interface structure between first and second stage (Dutch Space, Netherlands) and upper stage structures (Astrium Spain).
The first Vega lifted off on 13 February 2012 at 10:00 GMT (11:00 CET, 07:00 local time in Kourou) from the new launch pad, and conducted a flawless qualification flight.
The second Vega rocket flight successfully launched the Vietnamese satellite VNREDSat-1, built by Astrium, on 6 May 2013.