After a couple of delays Arianespace launched the second Vega rocket from the Guiana Space Center at 02:06 UTC.
The rocket, the second flight for ESA’s newest launch vehicle carried three spacecraft into orbit:
Proba‑V is based on the platform flown on two previous ESA missions and carries the Vegetation imager to map global vegetation cover every two days, as a follow-on to the first generation of Vegetation imagers on France’s Spot-4 and -5 satellites.
In addition to this primary payload, Proba also hosts a series of technology payloads such as a receiver to detect aircraft in flight around the globe, a communications amplifier based on the latest gallium nitride technology, a novel pair of radiation monitors and a photonics experiment testing fibre optics for space.
Along with Proba-V two other satellites were also sent into orbit:
VNREDSat-1A (Vietnam Natural Resources, Environment, Disaster Satellite), a commercial remote sensing satellite built by Vietnam’s Academy of Sciences and Technologies, and ESTCube-1. As the name ESTCube-1 suggests this is a Cube sat and was designed an built by students from the University of Tartu. This first satellite for Estonia was built with a contribution from the Finnish Meterorological Institute. It will deploy a 10 m-long tether to demonstrate electrostatic manoeuvring through the plasma flow, which could lead to electrostatic solar sails for propellantless interplanetary travel.