18 June 1999
The second test firing of the Zefiro engine has successfully taken place on Thursday 17 June, at the Salto di Quirra launch range in Sardinia, Italy. The Zefiro solid propellant engine will be used to power the second stage of the small launcher Vega.
This test firing has been conducted in the framework of the activities scheduled in the first step of the Vega programme. Vegaspazio, a joint venture between FiatAvio (I) and Aerospatiale (F) is the prime contractor for the development of the launch vehicle.
The 16 ton Zefiro solid propellant motor, 4 m long and 1.9 m in diameter is developed by FiatAvio. The first hot firing test of the full scale motor took place successfully on 18 June 1998.
Vega will be a single-body satellite launch vehicle, composed of three solid propulsion stages and an additional liquid propulsion upper module for attitude and orbit control, satellite release and de-orbiting, and a fairing for satellite protection. Launched from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Space-port, in Kourou, French Guiana, Vega is designed to take a 800 kg payload mass on a 1200 km polar orbit. Its first launch is planned for end 2002.
The first stage of Vega will be based on a solid rocket motor derived from the Ariane 5 solid booster, with a reduced propellant mass of about 85 tons (from the original 230 t). The third stage will be a 7 t solid rocket motor with a diameter of 1.9 m.
The final decision on the development of the small launcher Vega is expected to be taken in October 1999 by the ESA Council.
For further information, please contact:
ESA Public Relations Division