Spaceflight Insider

Vega rocket set to launch DZZ-HR satellite for Kazakhstan

The European Space Agency (ESA) is readying a Vega rocket to hoist the DZZ-HR spacecraft to orbit on April 28, 2014. Photo Credit: ESA

Europe’s smallest rocket is set to launch for the third time on Monday, April 28 (Tuesday, April 29 in Europe) from Kourou, French Guiana at 9:35 p.m. EDT, 1:35 GMT. The VEGA rocket is now poised to launch the second satellite for the Republic of Kazakhstan in as many days (Kazsat-3 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrone earlier today).

The DZZ-HR satellite payload is an 1830-pound (830 kilograms) satellite that was built by Airbus Defence and Space for the Republic of Kazakhstan. Once in Sun-synchronous orbit, (inclined 98.5 deg.)  The satellite is tasked with providing information on a wide range of civil applications – including the monitoring of natural and agricultural resources, the provision of mapping data, and support for rescue operations. It is expected that the satellite will have an operational life of about 7 years. Once on orbit, the high-resolution spacecraft will be renamed KazEOSat 2.

Seen here is the payload fairing which will protect DZZ-HR through Earth's atmosphere during ascent. Photo Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace

Seen here is the payload fairing which will protect DZZ-HR through Earth’s atmosphere during ascent. Photo Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace

During Vega’s initial ascent from the SLV Launch complex in Kourou, the DZZ-HR  satellite will be protected by a 7.90-meter-long payload fairing which will be  jettisoned about 4 minutes after liftoff.

The Vega rocket is a three stage rocket. The P80 first stage is an advanced solid propellant motor that features a novel filament-wound casing structure. Using one of the largest and most powerful single-block solid propellant motors ever built. The 36 foot (11-meter) tall first stage burns for approximately 1 minute and 45 seconds during the first phase of powered flight.

The second stage of the Vega rocket is a Zefiro 23 solid propellant stage. this section of the rocket will operate for about 2 minutes. The Vega’s Zefiro 9 third stage then will take over the task of delivering DZZ-HR to its destination. It will burn for about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. After separation of the third stage the AVUM (Attitude & Vernier Upper Module) upper stage takes over with a first burn that is slated to last about 6 minutes. A second burn about 54 minutes after launch will place the DZZ-HR satellite in its final orbit. Spacecraft separation should take place 55 minutes and 29 seconds after launch.

The Vega rocket launches from the old Ariane-1 and Ariane-3 launch pad ELA-1 located at Kourou. After those two launch vehicles were replaced by the more powerful Ariane-4 rocket the launch pad was not used for several years. When Europe made the decision to design and build the VEGA light weight rocket the ELA-1 launch pad was refurbished for the Vega rocket and renamed SLV.

Vega is one of three boosters launched from the Kourou spaceport by Arianespace – the other two being the Soyuz and Ariane 5 rockets.

The first Vega launch was a qualification mission performed in February 2012, carrying the LARES satellite, and seven CubeSats.  The second Vega launch took place in May of 2013, which orbited the Proba-V, VNREDSat-1 and ESTCube-1 satellites. The “3” in this flight’s VV03 designation – denotes that this is the third flight of this launch vehicle.

The DZZ-HR spacecraft, seen here, will be placed into a Sun-synchronous orbit. Photo Credit: ESA / CNES

The DZZ-HR spacecraft, seen here, will be placed into a Sun-synchronous orbit. Photo Credit: ESA / CNES


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A native of the Netherlands, van Oene became ‘infected’ with the ‘space virus’ by an enthusiastic school teacher in 1981. Since 1994 he has been a freelance space photographer and writer for magazines and websites in Holland, Belgium and ‘Spaceflight’, the magazine of the British Interplanetary Society. van Oene is also the co-founder and CFO of SPACEPATCHES.NL. This Netherlands-based foundation currently produces all the official Soyuz crew patches for the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos.

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