On the night of 28 to 29 April, Vega will lift off from Europe’s spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) carrying the Pleiades Neo 3 optical satellite built by its future operator Airbus Defence & Space, the NorSat-3 Earth-observation microsatellite for the Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA) and four cubesats for the operators Eutelsat, Aurora Insight and Spire, ridesharing on the novel Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser operated for the first time by Arianespace in September last year. The launch will be the first this year from the CSG and the first for Vega, which will be making its 18th flight since entering service at the launch base in 2012.
With a launch mass of 920 kilograms, Pleiades Neo 3 is the first in an avant-garde constellation of four Earth-observation satellites. Offering a resolution of 30 centimetres and best-in-class geolocation accuracy, the four Pleiades Neo satellites will afford a fivefold improvement in responsiveness over existing constellations, enabling urgent acquisitions within 30 to 40 minutes of tasking requests in critical situations like natural disasters. Pleiades Neo 3 will also serve mapping, urban planning and defence applications. The satellite has an expected lifetime of eight years plus a two-year extension.
NorSat-3, developed by the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) for NOSA, will carry a navigation radar detector designed to augment ship-detection capabilities. It succeeds the NorSat-1 and NorSat-2 satellites, providing continuity of data for shipping traffic monitoring.
BRAVO is a 6U cubesat with an integrated spectrum survey payload built for Aurora Insight. It is one-half of a two-satellite mission designed to expand Aurora Insight‘s radio frequency spectrum infrastructure.
The two LEMUR-2 satellites are 3U cubesats that will collect Earth data for Spire to support some of the most advanced maritime, aviation and weather tracking in the world.
Tyvak-182A is a 6U cubesat that will enable Eutelsat to provide backhaul for customers in areas not served by terrestrial networks and provide redundancy of existing terrestrial network coverage.