Arianespace has published the findings from an Independent Inquiry Commission tasked with analyzing the failure of Vega Flight VV15. Vega failed during the launch of the Falcon Eye-1 satellite in July. The overview concludes the second stage failed 14 seconds into its burn, via a sudden and violent event via a “thermo-structural failure in the forward dome ” resulting in vehicle breakup.




Vega had a flawless launch record ahead of the VV15 flight, with 14 successes as Arianespace’s small launcher tasked with dealing with customer demand outside of its Ariane 5 and Soyuz launch contracts.

Falcon Eye-1 was its 12th Earth observation mission, the first of two spacecraft for the United Arab Emirates’ FalconEye satellite system.

Vega’s launch appeared nominal, with the first stage booster firing the rocket and payload from the ELA-1 pad at the European Spaceport in French Guiana.

The first stage’s P80 burned for one minute and 54 seconds, propelling the rocket to a velocity of 1.78 kilometers per second (3,980 miles per hour) and an altitude of 53 kilometers (33 miles, 29 nautical miles).

The first stage separated at burnout, with the second stage supposed to ignite its Zefiro 23 motor almost immediately for what was supposed to be a one-minute, 43-second burn.

Views from the live webcast didn’t appear to show the second stage lighting up, although this has since been revealed to the fault of the views attained by the long-range cameras. It was flagged as a worry soon after controllers started to move to their phones and appeare

Read More