Proba-V ready atop Vega launcher on pad
ESA’s Proba-V and its two companion satellites are sitting on top of their Vega rocket on the launch pad, ready for a flight rescheduled to the night of 3/4 May.
To carry out additional checks on the mobile gantry used at the Vega complex at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, ESA and Arianespace have decided to postpone flight VV02 for 24 hours.
Liftoff is now scheduled for the night of 3/4 May at 02:06:31 GMT on 4 May (04:06:31 CEST 4 May; 23:06:31 local time 3 May).
On 15 April Proba-V was fixed to the Vespa secondary payload adapter, above Vietnam’s VNREDSat-1 Earth observation satellite and the ESTCube-1 Estonian student nanosatellite.
Two days later this entire stack was enclosed within Vega’s protective fairing. On 19 April the ‘upper composite’ was transported to the mobile launch tower, where it was hoisted up to the top platform.
The assembly was attached to Vega the following day, sitting above the reignitable upper stage that will steer the trio of satellites to their various orbits.
The mobile launch tower was retracted on Tuesday, leaving the completed rocket in place on the pad ready for a full checkout.
Proba-V will be the first of the three satellites deployed from the upper stage. Occupying less than a cubic metre, it is a miniaturised ESA satellite tasked with a full-scale mission: to map land cover and vegetation across the entire planet every two days.
This new, advanced version of the Vegetation camera is the latest in a series already in service on France’s full-sized Spot-4 and Spot-5 satellites, which have been observing Earth since 1998.
The minisatellite will provide data to the camera’s worldwide user community of scientists and service providers as soon as it is commissioned in orbit.
This second flight marks the start of the Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment programme, or VERTA, to demonstrate the flexibility and versatility of the vehicle. At a planned minimum of two launches per year, the programme will allow the smooth transition of Vega into commercial exploitation.