The payload shroud containing six satellites set for launch on a European Vega rocket Wednesday night. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – G. Barbaste
Six satellites are set to ride a light-class European Vega rocket into orbit from French Guiana on Wednesday night, the first Vega launch since a failure last year that officials attributed to human error.
The prime payload on the four-stage Vega launcher is Pléiades Neo 3, a high-resolution Earth-imaging satellite built and owned by Airbus. Pléiades Neo 3 is the first of four French-built next-generation Pléiades with sharp eyes and the ability to rapidly beam their reconnaissance imagery back to military, scientific, and commercial customers.
Five smaller payloads for the Norwegian Space Agency, NanoAvionics, Spire, and Eutelsat will accompany Pléiades Neo 3 into orbit on top of the Vega launcher.
Liftoff from the European-run Guiana Space Center is set for 9:50:47 p.m. EDT Wednesday (10:50:47 p.m. local time), or 0150 GMT Thursday. It will be the 18th flight of a Vega rocket since 2012, and the first launch from the equatorial spaceport in South America this year.
The launch is crucial for Arianespace, the French launch services firm that oversees Vega launches, and ...