meiza - 15/9/2006 10:05 AM
Why does the Vega program move on so slowly?
At first, there was a lot of politics that delayed European program approval until 2001. Then, to gain approval, Vega was morphed a bit into an R&D effort meant to improve the Ariane 5 P80 solid rocket boosters. This added much time to the development effort, since the current metal P80 cases are being replaced by new carbon epoxy filament wound cases. There are also new igniters, a new electromechanical TVC, a new HTPB 1912 propellant, new carbon phenolic nozzles, etc.
The current plan is to fly by the end of 2007, as I understand it. The second and third stage qualification motor tests were performed earlier this year in Italy. The first stage motor qual test is set to occur in Kourou in late November.
Then Europe will have a $20-ish million 1.5 tonne to LEO/P launcher in a world with other options, like the $12 million equivalent payload Rokot/Briz KM
- Ed Kyle