Contract for Vega roll and attitude control subsystem signed

Vega RACS contract signing participants
1 August 2007

Last week, a ceremony was held at ESA’s European Space Research Institute (ESRIN) in Frascati, Italy, to witness the signing of a contract for the development and qualification of the roll and attitude control subsystem for Europe’s new small launcher, Vega.

The contract is between the Vega Prime Contractor, ELV SpA of Italy, and Astrium GmbH, of Germany. It was signed by Sergio Scippa, the CEO of ELV, and Andreas Rohne, Director of Propulsion and Equipment at Astrium GmbH. Mr Stefano Bianchi, Head of the Vega Programme at ESA was also present at the signing.
Activities on the Roll and Attitude Control Subsystem (RACS) for Vega started in 2006. With the signing of this contract, Astrium GmbH will become fully responsible for the qualification of the subsystem and for the delivery of the flight unit for the qualification flight. An agreement for the procurement of the roll and attitude control subsystems for the first five operational Vega flights has also been reached.

Vega on launch pad (artist's impression)
Vega on launch pad (artist's impression)

Attitude and roll control is a critical subsystem for the Vega launcher. It is responsible both for controlling the roll rate of the launch vehicle during its propulsion phases and for performing three-axis flight control of the final stage.
The RACS utilises Monomethyl Hydrazine (MMH) as its propellant and consists of a tank and two clusters of three thrusters each, mounted on the AVUM (Altitude and Vernier Upper Module) fourth stage. It re-uses, to the maximum possible extent, the European experience gained in the Ariane 5 programme.
The contract will help to reinforce and maintain the European know-how in developing attitude control subsystems for launchers and enhance expertise in the new technologies needed for this important launcher component.

Vega launcher (artist’s impression)
Vega launcher (artist’s impression)

This is the first important contract for the development and qualification of flight hardware signed with a German company on Vega. It is also a major milestone that will help to reinforce in the development and maintain through Vega’s operational life the European know-how on attitude control subsystems for launchers”, underlined Stefano Bianchi at the signing.
The Vega Launch Vehicle Programme is managed by the ESA Integrated Project Team from ESA-ESRIN. Once Vega becomes operational, following a maiden flight scheduled for the end of 2008, it will be able to place satellites with masses of 300 to 2000 kilograms economically into the polar and low-Earth orbits used for many scientific and Earth observation missions.

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