Machine Design

ESA's Upper Composite Passes Vibration Test at ESTEC

The upper composite of ESA's new small launcher, that houses the navigation, communications, and control equipment, recently passed its vibration test at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC).

Julie Kalista
Online Editor

Vega upper composite on "multishaker"
Vega launcher (artist's impression)

Vega is a small launch vehicle designed to carry payloads, carried on top of the composite, in the range of 300-kg to 2.5 tonnes into low Earth orbits with a typical reference for launch capacity at 1500-kg to a 700 km-altitude polar orbit. To pass the test, the composite was mounted on the 'multi-shaker' in the Test Center at ESTEC that applied accelerations to the base of the composite while around 400 accelerometers and 40 strain gauges measured the movements and forces within the structure.

At the end of 2006, reports on all the tests will be presented at the "Critical Design Review." If Vega passes this final test production components for the qualification flight launcher can proceed. The first launch is planned for the end of 2007 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

The fourth Vega industry day took place on October 5th at ESA-ESTEC and the adjacent Space Expo in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. The day was an occasion for all participants in the Vega program to share an overview of the key technical and programmatic achievements in the development activities being carried out under the three main industrial contractors: Vitrociset SpA (Italy), regulating the ground segment; Europropulsion SA (France/Italy), in charge of the solid propellant motor and the first stage of the P80; and ELV SpA (Italy), responsible for the launch vehicle.

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