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It was due to take off last night at 3 hours of the morning (Paris time) of the Guyanese Space Center in Kourou, aboard a small European Vega rocket that should have gone into orbit at 670 kilometers of altitude to study the electrical phenomena occurring above Thunderbolt storms, the “light phenomenon passing”, was discovered in the years 1990 and is still poorly understood. It was a French space mission, of enormous scientific interest, but the mission of Taranes was lost

Read also Taranes, the mission that should have sunk into the dark side of storms

«Eight minutes after the launch of the Vega VV17 mission, following ignition of the upper stage engine, the trajectory of the trajectory has been identified, resulting in the loss of the mission» All we know so far is this brief announcement from Arianespace, the operating company and marketing of the European Ariane and Vega missiles

The problem had therefore been announced at the top of the trigger previously, the first floor, then the second, then the third all properly drained their fuel tanks for two to three minutes, passing the stick and falling back into the atmosphere They were there one by one eight minutes after the start of the flight, only the top of Vega was left: a unit called Avum, which contained the equipment box (with electrical and electronic systems to control the flight), a small engine responsible for making the final adjustments to the track to obtain the desired orbit, And the cargo this Tuesday 17 November, Vega took two passengers ???? Spanish Earth Observation Satellite (SEOSAT-Ingenio) and French Taranis minor

Watch #Vega launch its 17th mission from a spaceport in French Guiana, carrying two Earth observation satellites for Europe: # SEOSAT-Ingenio and #TARANIS # VV17 @ esaCDTIoficialcnesAvio_GroupAirbusSpace pic Twitter com / LIGTClzK0L

“Telemetry data analyzes are underway to determine the cause of this failure”, Arianespace note which indicated that a press conference took place this afternoon to take stock of the progress of the investigation: the Avom floor appears to have suffered from uncontrolled movements after its engine ignited due to “wrongly connecting cables “so, this is a human error and not a technical error.

It took several decades to complete the Taranis space mission. The project was proposed in the years 1990, after discovering sprites (red light strings) and blue jets (lightning upside down) appeared in the clouds ​​above during thunderstorms, the idea of ​​allocating a satellite to study these phenomena on the ground was won. Gradually, «as the selection progresses», recalls Christophe Bastien Terry as project manager at Cnes in 2005, the Taranis mission was validated followed by five years of preliminary studies, before budget allocation 2010 and ten years later from Studying, design, to build, assemble and test eight scientific instruments on a micro-satellite platform – ???? Only 175 kilos and the size of the dishwasher in total, the Taranis project cost 115 million euros and mobilized «345 full-time equivalents Cnes» with more than 400 agents Not counting CNRS and CEA employees

Last launch interface tests for the Taranis satellite in a clean room at the Toulouse Space Center. Photo Cnes

«The failed launch of Vega and the loss of Taranis is terrible news for all those who have dedicated themselves to this mission for several years.», acted this morning at CRNS for its part, wanted the Institute for Research in Astrophysics and Planets (IRAP), who designed a scientific instrument for Taranis From Toulouse, share a ray of hope in the hope that a new satellite will emerge: «Hopefully in the short term, the CNRS and Cnes teams involved have the necessary human and financial resources to relaunch both this beautiful, original and innovative mission»

The light launcher, widely developed by the Italian Space Agency, is definitely going through a very bad phase after fourteen successful launches since its first flight in 2012. Vega already missed its 15th flight in July 2019 that the Falcon missile was supposed to launch. Eye, 1, a visual recognition satellite for the United Arab Emirates, but two minutes after takeoff, when the second-stage engine had ignited, “a sudden and violent motor accident has occurred”, according to the results of the survey, and the missile “it got broken”: the second floor on the one hand , The rest of the other's car, the track was destroyed and the control center ordered the destruction of the car.

Two failures in seventeen trips… This now represents a failure rate of 117%, which is very catastrophic for the image of the small rocket

The United Arab Emirates received a record amount of 415 millions of dollars (350 millions of euros) as collateral for the loss of their satellite and changed their plans to cancel the planned launch of Falcon Eye 2, the twin of the lost satellite with which he also had to work at least in Vega. It was originally planned that the Falcon Eye 2 be finally delivered to the Russian Soyuz missile, more expensive and statistically more reliable, which should be launched at the end of November.

On his side, Vega was suspended for fourteen months after this incident, it is time to shed light on its causes and ??? Make the necessary corrections before attempting to peel again (without forgetting the many postponements associated with the Covid-19 epidemic) Vega finally took over the launch pad in September 2020, sending a full set of 53 small satellites in orbit – seven microscopes weighing between 15 and 150 Kilograms, and forty-six cubic satellites The European Space Agency and the Ariane group have expressed their happiness with this successful return to flight, which at the same time proved the validity of “new joint launch service”, which opened the market to nanosatellites, which could lead to a new boom in the small missile while waiting for its successor

Vega-C should take over for the first flight next year. More powerful than the first Vega missile of the name, what missiles “will allow 700 extra kg plus a larger volume at a larger show at a similar cost”. In Vieja, ESA promises that this will allow more passengers to embark on a combined flight and thus significantly reduce the cost per kilogram. »

But the next generation of European missiles is far behind: the small Vega-C missile and the large Ariane missile 6 were due to launch this year Just two weeks ago, the European Space Agency announced that Vega-C will finally depart in June 2021, and Ariane 6 in the second quarter 2022, recalling the serious impact of the epidemic. May of Covid-19 on schedule

Until then, Vega's first name will undoubtedly remain constant, once again, for a long time (especially since the Avum engine inoperative must also be fitted to the upper deck of Vega-Câ ??) Two flights are planned in 2021 to launch the first two satellites For the new French Earth observation constellation, Pléiades-Neo, this group of four satellites was built by Airbus, and it follows the existing Pleiades satellites, and should greatly improve their accuracy, reaching a spatial resolution of 30 cm instead of 3 meters. ??? This will allow us to remain in competition with the American Maxar. Each of these flights scheduled for next year was to make way for the second passenger on a new set of nanosatellites. Russian Soyuz bombers could take over already loaded tasks to 2021.


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TARANIS, Vega, Launcher, European Space Agency, CNES, Thunderstorm, Missile

News – FR – Fail to launch: the missing Taranis satellite


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