COLORADO SPRINGS — The European Area Company will launch its Sentinel-1C radar imaging satellite tv for pc on a Vega C rocket in 2023 because the company continues to review potential impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on that launch car.
Arianespace introduced April 7 that it received a contract from ESA to launch Sentinel-1C within the first half of 2023. Neither the corporate nor the company disclosed them phrases of the contract.
The number of Vega C was anticipated, since planning for the mission anticipated it flying on the Vega C moderately than the a lot bigger Ariane 6. The primary two Sentinel-1 missions launched on Soyuz rockets from French Guiana, however Russia terminated Soyuz launches from that spaceport in February in response to European sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, and even earlier than that ESA was phasing out its use.
There had been discussions earlier this 12 months that the launch of Sentinel-1C may very well be moved up due to a malfunction of Sentinel-1B that took it out of service in December 2021. The spacecraft stays out of service due to issues with the ability system for its artificial aperture radar (SAR) imaging payload.
At a March 17 briefing, ESA officers had been pessimistic about recovering Sentinel-1B, at the same time as efforts to revive the SAR payload continued. “It doesn’t look excellent, however for the second it’s not the ultimate phrase on 1B,” mentioned Simonetta Cheli, director of Earth statement at ESA.
She mentioned then that Sentinel-1C could be prepared for launch as quickly as October, though on the time it was not scheduled to launch till the center of 2023. “We’re assessing, within the present state of affairs, choices with Arianespace for launch. We’re wanting on the earliest choices as a result of we need to assist the customers.”
On the identical briefing, ESA officers famous a possible problem with the Vega C, an upgraded, extra highly effective model of the prevailing Vega rocket scheduled to make its first launch by the center of this 12 months. The rocket’s higher stage, known as AVUM, makes use of a liquid-propellant engine constructed by Ukrainian firm Yuzhmash. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raised questions concerning the long-term availability of the engine.
On the March briefing, Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s director of house transportation, mentioned Yuzhmash had delivered three of the engines, sufficient for Vega launches in 2022. The company was contemplating choices to probably exchange that engine with options from each European and different sources, he mentioned.
Avio, the prime contractor for Vega, issued a press release March 25 downplaying any danger of shedding entry to the Ukrainian engine, saying it commonly obtained engines and has constructed up a “strategic inventory” in reserve. “As of right now Avio doesn’t see particular dangers associated to the supply of engines within the medium time period,” the corporate mentioned. It didn’t reply to inquiries concerning the variety of AVUM engines in reserve.
In an April 6 interview through the thirty seventh Area Symposium, ESA Director Basic Josef Aschbacher mentioned three extra engines had been delivered. “We now have sufficient AVUM engines for the flights in ’22 and ’23,” he mentioned.
He mentioned ESA was persevering with to take a look at various engines for Vega C missions past 2023. “There we now have totally different choices that we’re pursuing now: European but in addition with the U.S.”
“For Arianespace, this contract is an indication of the arrogance within the Vega C system and a robust signal of the dedication of European establishments for an autonomous entry to house,” Stéphane Israël, chief govt of Arianespace, mentioned in an organization assertion concerning the launch contract.