Skip to main content

Watch highlights of the first launch of new European rocket

The European Space Agency launched a new rocket for the first time this week, with the inaugural mission of the Vega-C. This medium-sized rocket is used for delivering payloads like satellites into orbit, and for its first mission it carried a total of almost 500kg consisting of one large satellite and six small CubeSats.

Highlights of the inaugural Vega-C launch

Vega-C lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana as part of a European Space Agency (ESA) mission called Flight VV21. Liftoff occurred at 9:13 a.m. ET (6:13 a.m. PT) on Wednesday, July 12. The rocket took two hours and 15 minutes to release its lat payload, and you can see highlights of the mission in the video above or on ESA’s YouTube channel.

Vega-C launches on its inaugural mission VV21 on 13 July 2022.
Vega-C launches on its inaugural mission VV21 on 13 July 2022. ESA/CNES/Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG/S Martin

The new rocket is an upgrade to ESA’s older Vega rocket which is now a decade old. “Vega-C represents a dramatic capability boost compared to Vega, which has flown since 2012,” ESA writes. “With new first and second stages and an uprated fourth stage, Vega-C increases performance from Vega’s 1.5 t to about 2.3 t in a reference 700 km polar orbit.”

Vega-C is larger than Vega at nearly 30 meters in height compared to Vega’s 25 meters, and it also has a bigger fairing or nose cone. This means there is more room inside the rocket for carrying payloads — in this case, it means Vega-C can carry twice the payload volume of Vega. The aim is for the rocket to be able to deploy either two main payloads or a selection of smaller payloads as part of a rideshare program.

Develpment will continue on the Vega model with a planned variant called Vega-E, set for debut in 2026 which will use a new cryogenic upper stage in place of Vega-C’s third and fourth stages.

The larger satellite deployed from Vega-C this week was called LARES-2, and is a research satellite from the Italian Space Agency for investigating a phenomenon related to distortions of spacetime called the frame-dragging effect. The other six small CubeSats were research projects from various European countries including research into growing plants in space conditions and studying the effects of space radiation on electronics hardware.

You can also rewatch the entire launch sequence which was livestreamed by ESA using the video link below:

Vega-C launch

Editors' Recommendations

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
SpaceX scrubs launch of world’s most powerful rocket due to valve issue
SpaceX's Starship rocket on the pad in Boca Chica, Texas.

The planned first test flight of the SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy rocket has been scrubbed. The launch of the world's most powerful rocket had been scheduled for today, Monday April 17, but was called off due to a frozen valve.

The decision was made to halt the countdown around 10 minutes before liftoff, turning the event today into a wet dress rehearsal instead of a test flight. That means the rocket was fueled and ready to launch, but did not actually leave the ground, and the countdown was halted around 40 seconds before liftoff. "A pressurant valve appears to be frozen, so unless it starts operating soon, no launch today," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter.

Read more
SpaceX aims to launch world’s most powerful rocket on Monday
SpaceX's Super Heavy and Starship.

SpaceX is targeting Monday, April 17, for the maiden launch of the most powerful rocket ever built after receiving clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration, and financial responsibility requirements,” the agency said in a statement on Friday.

Read more
See highlights of the launch of the European JUICE spacecraft
ESA’s latest interplanetary mission, Juice, lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French 09:14 local time/14:14CEST on 14 April 2023 to begin its eight-year journey to Jupiter, where it will study in detail the gas giant planet’s three large ocean-bearing moons: Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

An Ariane 5 rocket carrying a spacecraft bound for Jupiter's icy moons was launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at around 8 a.m. ET (5 a.m. PT) on Friday, April 14, in a spectacular daytime liftoff.

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft from the European Space Agency has a mass of 2.6 tonnes and is carrying nearly 4 tonnes of fuel. This will be the final launch of an ESA mission using an Ariane 5 rocket, manufactured by ArianeGroup, as the rocket will now be succeeded by the upcoming Ariane 6 which is designed to be cheaper to launch.

Read more