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Arianespace loss: Independent inquiry ordered

December 22, 2022

The loss of a valuable Vega-C rocket and two Airbus satellites (valued at some €200 million) has resulted in Arianespace ordering an independent inquiry commission.

An Arianespace statement said they and the European Space Agency (ESA) immediately decided to appoint an independent inquiry commission.

“This commission is tasked with analysing the reasons for the failure and defining the measures fulfilling all requisite safety and reliability conditions to allow the resumption of Vega C flights. Composed of independent experts, the commission will work with [Italy’s] Avio SpA, Vega C launch system prime contractor,” said the statement.

The details known so far are that the Vega’s lift-off, the mission and the separation of the first stage were nominal. Following the nominal ignition of the second stage’s (Zefiro 40) engine around 144 seconds after lift-off, a decrease in the pressure was observed leading to the premature end of the mission.

“Under standard procedure, the order of destruction of the launcher was given by CNES, the launch safety authority; no damage to persons or properties occurred,” said Arianespace.

The inquiry commission is co-chaired by the Inspector General of ESA and the Chief Technical Officer of Arianespace. More information will be shared as soon as the Commission will have progressed in its investigations.

The industry will be looking for a speedy result, and consequent guidance, by the inquiry commission. The loss, and inevitable suspension of future planned Vega launches will mean real pressures on Europe’s satellite launch plans.

Clients waiting for Vega launches includes Korea’s Kompsat-7 craft and Thailand’s Theos-2.

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