At 3:51 and 10 seconds on June 19, if all goes as it should, a Vega carrier will fly from the Kourou space base in French Guiana with 53 small satellites from 21 different companies on board. This is the VV16 mission managed by Arianespace, originally scheduled for March and then postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic that stopped the world, which is part of the program Small Spacecraft Mission Service, designed to bring satellites from 1 to 500 kg in low Earth orbit at an affordable cost.
For the carrier made by the Italian company Avio This is an important mission, the first flight of a Vega rocket since the unsuccessful launch of July 2019, in which a problem in the second stage engine caused a deviation of the predetermined trajectory and loss of load. Vega (acronym for European Advanced Generation Carrier) is a four-stage carrier, three with solid propellant and one with liquid propellant for orbital maneuvers, with a load capacity of up to 1.5 tons. Avio sent a team of more than 60 people to the Kourou base last May to prepare for the VV16 mission, plus a further launch in August and a third by the end of the year.
Avio is also working on the development of the new and more powerful Vega C carrier, which brings the load for launches in low orbit to 2.2 tons, which is still awaiting certification by ESA and whose first launch will take place with all probability in 2021.