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On 30 November 2017, ESA signed two contracts with Italy’s ELV and Thales Alenia Space that will extend Europe’s Vega space system capabilities and competitiveness.
ELV will develop and test a new upper stage motor for Vega-E, based on liquid oxygen–methane propulsion. It replaces the Zefiro-9 third stage and AVUM for Vega.
A second contract was signed with ELV and Thales Alenia Space for the detailed mission and system design up to the Critical Design Review for Europe’s Space Rider reentry vehicle.
The Vega and Space Rider development programmes provide the framework to consolidate a Vega space system able to capture the broadest market needs with Vega-C and its spin-offs products: Small Spacecraft Mission Services, Space Rider, VEnUS, covering access to low Earth orbit (LEO) for payloads up to 2300 kg, orbital transfer from LEO, and return from LEO, for a multitude of space applications in a competitive manner.