Widespread interest for the 2nd European CubeSat Workshophttp://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM8S7WPXPF_index_0.html23 January 2009The Second European CubeSat Workshop, organised by the ESA Education Office, was held at the European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands from 20 to 22 January 2009.
Since there is considerable interest in the development of the Vega launcher, I decided to try a small experiment in scientific extrapolation. I first heard of the Vega initiative (by that name) in the 1987 Frascati conference on small satellites, where three presentations described new small launcher developments: Vega, AMROC's ILC-1, and Pegasus (I presented the latter). There was a good-humored bet among the three presenters on the subject of which of our rockets would launch first (AMROC's George Koopman won, although it was a sad victory).I have been able to locate predictions of Vega's first launch dating from September of 1998 (at which time the first launch was predicted to occur "end of 2002".) I have also located four more published predictions dating from 2000 to last December. The data set is thus:Date 1st Launch CitationSep-98 Dec-02 http://esapub.esrin.esa.it/rfs/rfs18/CAPORICCI.pdfDec-00 Jan-05 http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/vega_funding_001219.htmlMar-03 Jun-06 http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Vega_Launcher_To_Orbit_Smaller_Payloads_In_Arianespace_Service.htmlNov-05 Dec-07 http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/VEGA.pdfJan-08 Dec-08 http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Launchers_Access_to_Space/ASEKMU0TCNC_0.htmlAs you can see, the dates of the prediction and the predicted dates of the first flight seem to be converging! A linear fit of these dates projects a launch date of March, 2011. A quadratic fit, April 2009 (not likely...) A cubic predicts October 2010 (possible...) a quartic January 2009 (no...)Having some personal experience in developing small solid-motor launch vehicles, my bet is not earlier than October 2010, but - unless the program is canceled - no later than March 2011.Any takers?
VegaLauncher qualification took place of the inter-stage 2/3, and payload adapter, propellant tanks and liquid propulsion qualification reviews were completed following the successful system test-firing campaign(UCFire). The main critical item remains the Roll and Attitude Control subsystem qualification, not yet completed. The data package of the launch vehicle was delivered in December for the launch system qualification review, and is under analysis. The update of the flight programme software and activities for the LARES mission (Vega qualification flight) have started.The last P80 test (case-burst test) was made at the beginning of December. Activities on the P80 Thrust Vector Control are complete, and the data package for this qualification review is under finalisation.In the ground segment, integrated tests are ongoing and are planned to complete by April, except for activities of washing columns, optical shelters and security systems, modified recently after Soyuz experience. The preparation of the ground qualification review and ground segment Technical Qualification Review has started.