Spaceflight Insider

Falcon Eye 1 spacecraft lost in Vega mishap

Liftoff of Vega/Sentinel-2B on flight VV09

Liftoff of Vega/Sentinel-2B on flight VV09, March 6, 2017. Photo Credit: ESA / CNES / Arianespace

It appears that an Arianespace Vega rocket has encountered a failure which has resulted in the loss of the Falcon Eye 1 satellite that it had been tasked with sending to orbit.

The launch vehicle was in the process of sending the spacecraft to low-Earth orbit observation satellite at 0153 GMT on July 11, 2019. Preliminary reports have indicated the launch vehicle encountered an anomaly about two minutes after it had left the pad in Kourou, French Guiana. 

“At around the (inaudible)…a major anomaly occurred, resulting in the loss of the mission,” Luce Fabrequettes, Executive Vice President Missions, Operations and Purchasing at Arianespace said. “On behalf of Arianespace, I wish to express my deepest apologies to our customers for the loss of their payload and telling them how sorry I am.”

The accident couldn’t come at a worst time for Arianespace. Many customers seeking to have their satellites and other payloads launched have been entering into contracts with SpaceX, who has come to dominate the launch service provider market. This accident could serve to convince other potential clients to purchase these services from SpaceX.

“From the first flight data analysis we will get in the coming hours more precise information and we will communicate to everybody at the soonest,” Fabrequettes said.

The Falcon Eye 1 satellite was a high-resolution optical reconnaissance craft that was launched on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. The smaller Vega rocket was selected because of the satellite’s weight (3,307 lbs / 1,500 kg). 

The first reports of this accident were reported by NASASpaceFlight’s Chris Bergin via Twitter.




Having a life-long interest in crewed space flight, Desforges’ passion materialized on a family vacation in 1999 when he was able see the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-96. Since then, Desforges has been an enthusiast of space exploration efforts. He lived in Orlando, Florida for a year, during which time he had the opportunity to witness the flights of the historic CRS-4 and EFT-1 missions in person at Cape Canaveral. He earned his Private Pilot Certificate in 2017, holds a degree in Aviation Management, and currently works as an Operations Analyst in the aviation industry in Georgia.

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