Home Radiation LARES-2 | Vega-C | everyday astronaut

LARES-2 | Vega-C | everyday astronaut

take off time
July 13, 2022 – 13:13:17 UTC | 10:13:17 GFT
Assignment name
Launch Provider
(Which rocket company launched it?)
(Who paid for this?)
European Space Agency (ESA)
Launch location
ELV-1, Guiana Space Center, French Guiana, France
Payload mass
Where did the spaceship go?
Multiple orbits
Did they try to recover the first floor?
No, it’s not a Vega-C ability.
Where did the first stage land?
He crashed into the ocean
Did they try to recover the fairings?
No, it’s not a Vega-C ability.
Are these fairings new?
It was the :
– 1st flight of the Vega-C rocket
– 14th European Space Agency mission overall
– 1st mission of the European Space Agency in 2022
– 21st Vega mission overall
– 1st Vega mission of 2022
– 83rd orbital launch attempt of 2022 (81st successful)
where to watch
Official ESA rebroadcast

How was it?

Arianespace and the European Space Agency have successfully completed the inaugural launch of the Vega-C rocket, an upgraded version of the Vega rocket. The rocket was launched from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, taking several payloads, including LARES 2, into orbit.


The Vega-C carried several payloads into orbit, the most important being the LARES-2. It was accompanied by the AstroBio Cubesat, the GreenCube, the CELESTA, the TRISAT R 3U, the MTCube 2 and the Alpha.

LARES-2, or Laser Relativity Satellite 2, is an upgraded version of the LARES satellite currently in orbit. The satellite was built for the Italian Space Agency by the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics. As seen below, the LARES-2 is a 42cm sphere covered in reflectors. The satellite is passive, but will be monitored by the ground station’s lasers, which will measure frame dragging, or the Lense-Thirring effect, which is a distortion of space-time caused by the rotation of a body planetary, like the Earth. Although small, the satellite has a large mass of almost 295 kg, which means that the satellite will be protected from disturbances such as solar wind and photons, which could cause the spacecraft to wobble.

The LARES-2 satellite (Credit: OHB-CGS)

CELESTA (CERN Latchup Experiment STudent sAtellite), also known as ROBUSTA 1D (Radiation on Bipolar Test for University Satellite Application), is a Cubesat of the University of Montpellier II. The satellite is tasked with studying short circuits in the electronic system caused by energy particles and comparing them to the radiative environment of CERN’s High Energy Accelerator Mixed Field (CHARM) facility.

MTCube 2 (Memory Test CubeSat), also known as ROBUSTA 1C is also a Cubesat project from the University of Montpellier II. Its mission will be to conduct experiments on the effects of radiation on memory components in space. The mission is on behalf of the European Space Agency.

The TRISAT-R satellite is a scientific and educational mission developed by the University of Maribor in Slovenia. The Cubesat will primarily study and map ionizing radiation in Medium Earth Orbits (MEO), as well as test AI algorithms using COTS components and error mitigation techniques in the high radiation environment of the spacecraft. ‘space.

TRISAT-R, satellite
The TRISAT-R (Credit: ESA)

ALPHA is an Italian technology demonstration developed by ARCA dynamics. The purpose of the Cubesat is to demonstrate radiation resistant technology. The mission will take place in the inner Van Allen belt in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). This is an extremely harsh radiation environment where the earth’s magnetic field traps harmful solar winds and cosmic rays from the sun. There, ALPHA will carry out experiments that will allow us to better understand phenomena linked to the magnetosphere, such as the aurora borealis and australis.

ALPHA, Cubesat
Cubesat ALPHA (Credit: ARCA Dynamics)

The AstroBio Cubesat and the GreenCube are Italian technology demonstration Cubesats developed by ENEA. AstroBio is testing solutions for detecting bio-molecules, a technology that will improve the health of astronauts and could even help in the search for life in future planetary exploration missions! GreenCube will conduct a plant growing experiment in a microgravity environment.

What is Vega-C?

The Vega-C, or Vega Consolidation, is an updated version of the original Vega rocket that has been optimized for better launch performance and flexibility. Development began in 2014 with the aim of meeting ever-changing payload demands and competing with cheaper launch vendors. It was the rockets’ maiden voyage.

The Vega-C features several key changes from the original Vega model. On the first stage, the original P80 motor was replaced by the PI20C booster. The entire Zefiro 23 second stage has been replaced with the Zefiro 40. The current AVUM fourth stage will be replaced with a larger AVUM+. These updates will enable new mission settings. The Vega-C will be able to carry a double payload when using the Vespa-C payload adapter, alternatively it will be able to carry a single large satellite with multiple small payloads when using the payload distributor Multiple Vampire and SMSS.

The Vega-C has three solid fuel stages and a liquid fuel fourth stage. It is capable of carrying ~2200 kg in a polar orbit of 700 km.

VEGA-C, elevation, stage separation
Illustration VEGA-C elevation & Floor separation (Credit: ESA)

First stage

Vega C’s first stage, the P120C, uses hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) as a propellant. The stage generates an average thrust of 3,015 kN and has a specific impulse of 280 seconds.

Second step

The rocket’s second stage, Zefiro 40, also uses the HTPB booster. The rocket engine burns provides 1,122 kN of thrust and has a specific impulse of 287.5 seconds.

Third step

The third stage, Zefiro 9, also uses the HTPB thruster. The engine of this stage provides 314 kN of thrust and it has a specific impulse of 295.2 seconds. This stage is identical to the original Vega third stage.

Fourth step

The fourth and final stage of the Vega-C rocket, AVUM+ (Attitude & Vernier Upper Module), uses hypergolic thrusters, asymmetric dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) for fuel, and nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) as an oxidant. This step has a specific impulse of 314.6 seconds.

Mission timeline

Event Time* (h:m:s)
P120 ignition 00:00:00
Separation P120 00:02:26
Z40 ignition 00:02:27
Z40 Separation 00:04:35
Z9 ignition 00:04:42
Fairing separation 00:04:46
Z9 Separation 00:07:22
AVUM+ 1st ignition 00:18:11
AVUM+ cut 00:22:16
AVUM+ 2nd ignition 01:14:03
AVUM+ cut 01:23:04
Main P/L Separation 01:24:06
AVUM+ 3rd ignition 01:35:46
AVUM+ cut 01:35:57
AVUM+ 4th ignition 02:07:04
AVUM+ cut 02:07:16
Beginning of the Cubesat separation sequence 02:09:56
1st CubeSat separation 02:09:56
Separation of the 2nd CubeSat 02:09:58
Separation of the 3rd CubeSat 02:09:59
Separation of the 4th CubeSat 02:10:01
AVUM+ 5th ignition 02:15:28
AVUM+ cut 02:15:32
*Actual time may vary