Successful lift-off for Vega rocket

2012-02-13 13:01

Kourou - Europe's new Vega rocket lifted off successfully from Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on its first test flight on Monday.

The 30m-tall Vega, which was designed in Italy and took nearly a decade to complete, lifted off at 10:00 GMT on its maiden voyage, which was to last 81 minutes.

The diminutive Vega, which can carry payloads of up to 2 500kg, completes the European family of rockets, which includes the heavy-duty Ariane 5 and the mid-size Russian-built Soyuz.

The rocket will release nine satellites into orbit on its maiden flight: Two Italian satellites and seven pico satellites provided by European universities.

The Vega was developed by seven European countries at a cost of nearly €790m ($1bn).

The last time the ESA launched a new rocket was on June 4 1996, when it carried out the first test flight of the Ariane 5.

That rocket exploded 40 seconds after lift-off from Kourou. An investigation later identified a software error.

  • E=MC2 - 2012-02-13 15:54

    amazing... europe is going though the worst financial crisis in decades yet they can find 790 million euros for a rocket.

      Glyn - 2012-02-13 16:49

      You are a twit! It took 10 years to develop, the financial crisis is much more recent. It does show that the Italians can design something more sophisticated than a FIAT! Well done.

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