WASHINGTON– A strong rocket motor for Europe's Vega C rocket malfunctioned throughout a static-fire test June 28, most likely pressing back the car's go back to flight to 2024.
In a June 29 declaration, Avio, the Italian business that is the prime professional for the Vega, stated a Zefiro 40 motor experienced an abnormality throughout a test that became part of effort to requalify the motor after a launch failure last December.
The static-fire test was meant to show the efficiency of brand-new carbon-carbon product in the motor's nozzle throat. Avio changed that product after comparable product from a Ukrainian provider deteriorated, triggering a loss of thrust throughout a December 2022 launch of the Vega C. That rocket utilizes the Zefiro 40 for its 2nd phase.
According to Avio, the brand-new carbon-carbon product carried out as anticipated. An undefined abnormality took location 40 seconds into the shooting. That triggered a decrease of pressure in the motor prior to the 97-second shooting ended. The business did not divulge extra information about the nature of the abnormality or loss of efficiency.
“This element will need more examination and screening activity to be carried out by Avio and the European Space Agency to guarantee optimum efficiency conditions,” the business specified, including that it would be days of weeks prior to the examination into the abnormality is finished.
“We need to see in information what this abnormality will imply” for the Vega C, stated Josef Aschbacher, ESA director general, throughout a June 29 interview after a conference of the ESA Council in Stockholm. “This will have an effect since it was a really essential turning point on our roadmap to the go back to flight for Vega C.”
The test was among the crucial actions in the effort to return the Vega C to flight. Avio likewise stated in March, when the examination into the launch failure was finished, that it would perform a more comprehensive evaluation of the supply chain of the automobile to search for any other possible problems.
The Zefiro 40 is not utilized on the initial variation of Vega. Avio stated it is continuing with strategies to resume Vega launches in September. Prior to the test event, the Vega C was anticipated to make its next launch late this year bring the Sentinel-1C radar imaging satellite that belongs to the Copernicus program.
This occurrence makes a return to flight for Vega C this year significantly not likely, however Avio did not talk about a brand-new schedule. “The preparation for the go back to flight of Vega C is presently under assessment, pending more analysis and examination,” Avio stated in the declaration.
At the ESA Council conference, Aschbacher stated that the council concurred with a suggestion from ESA's inspector general to move the launch of the EarthCARE spacecraft, an Earth science objective, from Vega C to Falcon 9. He stated that was connected to both modifications in the style of EarthCARE that would have needed adjustments to the Vega C payload fairing to accommodate it in addition to the December 2022 launch failure. EarthCARE is arranged for launch in 2024.
Jeff Foust discusses area policy, industrial area, and associated subjects for SpaceNews. He made a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor's degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science … More by Jeff Foust