Europe’s upgraded Vega space launcher makes first flight

(ORDO NEWS) — The European Space Agency celebrated the maiden flight of its Vega-C rocket, which aims to provide more value for customers in the face of growing competition in putting satellites into orbit.

Vega-C is an upgrade of the Vega rocket that debuted in 2012 as a launch vehicle specialized in launching small payloads into space. The new missile can carry a heavier payload than its predecessor while burning less fuel.

The ESA says Vega-C will be especially useful for launching Earth observation satellites, but it is also envisioned as a carrier for Space Rider, an uncrewed robotic laboratory that will be the first reusable spacecraft.

The launch of a 35-meter-high rocket from French Guiana was twice delayed shortly before launch due to technical problems, but everything went well on the third attempt.

Vega-C accelerates much faster than its big brother Ariane 5, ESA’s workhorse heavy booster, reaching speeds of 16,000 kilometers per hour within two minutes of liftoff.

The head of the ESA has announced a number of new ambitious projects that are planned to further compete in the space business.

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