MILAN: Italy’s Avio said on Monday (Oct 2) its Vega C rockets would return to flight in late 2024 after implementing fixes recommended by an independent panel set up by the European Space Agency (ESA) following a failed satellite launch.
An Arianespace mission on Dec. 20 carrying two Airbus Defence & Space satellites failed around two and a half minutes into flight when an anomaly occurred with the Zefiro 40 motor used by the Vega C rockets.
Avio said a recently concluded investigation established by ESA blamed a nozzle failure on the Zefiro 40 on a “combination of the geometry of the throat insert and the different thermo-mechanical properties of the new Carbon-Carbon material”.
A task force led by ESA and Avio is working on implementing the recommendations of the enquiry panel, Avio added.
Meanwhile, the Italian aerospace group announced the launch of two other Vega rockets, which do not use the Zefiro 40 motor, with the first flight scheduled for Oct 6 from the Guiana Space Centre and the second due in the second quarter of next year.
Italy’s Vega C rocket is due to play an increasingly crucial role in Europe’s access to space after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine forced launch firm Arianespace to stop using Russian Soyuz vehicles.