back to article ESA's first Vega rocket blasts off without a hitch

Europe's first Vega launcher blasted off in South America today in a successful qualification flight that signals the rocket is ready for use. Vega lifted off at 10am from a new launch pad at the European Space Agency's site in Kourou, French Guiana. The "flawless" flight means the Vega will join ESA's Ariane 5 and Soyuz …

COMMENTS

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  1. Paul_Murphy

    Nice one

    Very business-like, countdown proceeds to 0, and it rises like a scorched cat - a very rapid rise.

    I'm sure Blaster Bates would have approved.

    ttfn

    1. Can't think of anything witty...
      Facepalm

      You're right

      it looks great. Strangely, my first thought was "wow - that thing is really shifting. it's going really fast, I mean that just took off like a rocket..."

      ...

      <facepalm>

      ...

  2. ravenviz
    Coat

    'wee satellites'

    Is worldy human waste being sent into space now?

    1. Sargs
      Alien

      The Constellation Urion

      ...is an old NASA joke from the days when they did manned spaceflight and dumping your pee overboard would result in being surrounded by a cloud of twinkly frozen piddle crystals.

      On a related theme, NASA received complaints from a group of Native Americans after it became clear that they were leaving behind bags of astronaut doings on the moon. The tribe in question attached mythological significance to the moon and really didn't want it cluttered up with moon-poo. I can't recall the outcome, but I also can't recall NASA sending up a crew with a couple of carrier bags and a pooper-scooper to tidy up, and I think I'd remember that.

  3. Code Monkey
    Thumb Up

    [applauds]

    Fookin ell that was a quick liftoff!

  4. Yag

    Am I the only one...

    ... to find the voice of this engineer quite soothing?

    Anyway, quite a pretty and nice little one. The rocket! Not the engineer!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "voice of this engineer quite soothing"

      ...*and* he knows when to shut up.

      Must indeed be an engineer, not a reporter.

      Kudos.

      1. Yag
        Joke

        "he" knows when to shut up

        As said by Aerosmith a few decades ago... Dude looks like a lady.

        However, I think it would be very VERY un-PC to rewrite your sentence with a "she :)

  5. LPF
    Thumb Up

    tbf not that hard

    Its simply a balistic missle without a wardhead, and cosidering we have had those for years, it would be a disgrace if they had manade to cock it up. The trick is making the multi engines rockets work correctly!

    1. Yag
      Joke

      Sure, it's not rocket science...

      ... and balistic missiles are nothing more than oversized fireworks, and considering the chineese have had those for millenias, it is a disgrace that it took so long to not cock them up.

      Geez....

      1. Napoleon
        Headmaster

        re: Sure, it's not rocket science...

        Actually it was designed upon the ariane 5's solid booster technology. So yes ... flawless was the least to be achieved ...

    2. smartse
      Headmaster

      It's not that hard to spell either!

  6. b166er
    Thumb Up

    Very slick, she goes good, eh?

    World first thrust-vectoring system on that size rocket too.

  7. Glaf

    Nice, cost about the same as the Soyuz launched nearby but 30% of the payload.

    1. mark fernandes
      Linux

      Apples & oranges

      Vega's final stage can stop/start multiple times to deliver different payloads to different orbits from same launch. Also, another player in the field means that there will be more opportunity for cube-sat launches i.e. cheap launches that can do good science for smaller outlay.

      The price difference (compared to Soyuz) delivers more flexibility...

      Also, the money spent on launches remains in European economies (admittedly, a political advantage).

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    It'll be interesting to see what kind of ride it gives the payloads

    Historically solid rides are dog rough. They are the reason the first vibration control systems were developed by the USAF to allow re-purposed *solid* ICBM stages to act as launch vehicles.

    The fairing jettison was also quite high. IIRC the Shuttle SRB's separated at about the the top of the sensible atmosphere at around 70Km. Trying to keep the acceleration levels down perhaps?

    As for fast takeoffs that *was* fast compared to normal *initial* acceleration off a launch pad (unless you've seen a Sprint ABM takeoff.

    It's curious the commentator did not mention 2 things.

    1) Not only is the first stage the first *ever* to use electromechanical actuators of this size it's also the first to be powered by *batteries* (although they are pretty hefty).

    2)Despite the emphasis on the the "all solid" launcher the 4th stage is actually a storable liquid design, much like that on the OSC Pegasus when they are launching multiple payloads or need precision orbital injection.

    It's still a pretty astonishing achievement, and mostly made by a subsidiary of Fiat.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      2 minutes to first stage separation? that's quite a bumpy ride right there.

  9. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    That video was a joy to watch!

    <bruce_forsyth>"Didn't it do well!!</bruce_forsyth>

    Seriously, that was QUICK!!!

  10. Robert E A Harvey

    Blue Streak

    I'm old enough to remember Britian putting up a satellite with Black Arrow. I wonder how this compares?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Boffin

      @Robert E A Harvey

      "I'm old enough to remember Britian putting up a satellite with Black Arrow. I wonder how this compares?"

      Well Vega 3 solids +liquid upper stage

      Black Arrow 2 liquid + 1 solid upper stage. Note the solid stage was *critical to getting to orbit. The first more or less got the vehicle across Australia and over the ocean. 1st stage delta v < 2000ms^-1.

      Black arrow physically *much* smaller (Could fit into a 60' ISO container)

  11. peterkin
    Go

    Light the blue touchpaper...

  12. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    But, but. There's no mention of our contrib....

    Oh, yes. We pulled out of all that silly rocketry space stuff didn't we.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      At least you still have

      Skylon.

      http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/news_jan12.html*

      *how the hell do you do links?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      @Will Godfrey

      Quite true. The UK is the *only* state to develop independent launch capability and *abandon* it*

      This was partly as a result of a committee of the "Great & the Good" deciding there was no future in this rocket lark and those nice Americans could handle any launches HMG was going to need.

      The committee's composition was 1 anatomist, 1 aeronautical engineer, 1 classicist, 1 nuclear physicist, 1 Industrial chemist, 1 ornithologist, 1 botanist, 1 medical researcher, 1 agronomist,1 electrical engineer, 1 physical chemist and 2 mathematicians.

      So probably pretty good for getting to the bottom of the truth about AGW but a bit s**t for developing future UK space policy.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Voted down?

    Someone's having a full blown queen out.

    As it happens looking over the list of specialties today it did occur to me that this would be quite a good review group to look at the evidence on AGW. Chemistry, physics, maths,botany, birds and agriculture would seem to be a good mix of skills to access the validity of both the data and the models it's being fed into.

    Which has *not* been subject to detailed scientific analysis in the UK, *despite* claims of the 3 investigations into the behavior of the CRU.

    However I don't think I could have picked a *worse* panel to decide the fate of the UK independent space launch capability.

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