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A new test site for the upcoming Vega E engine has been established

The Space Propulsion Test Facility has become a one-of-a-kind European center of excellence for the development of new rocket technologies in the near future. The test bench, Liquid Rocket Engine (LRE) is one of the facility’s most critical elements, as it will be utilized to build and evaluate the new M10 liquid-fueled engine. The event was attended by Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo, as well as Lieutenant General Davide Marzinotto of the Italian Air Force, Michele Pais of the Sardinia Regional Council, Army Brigadier Gen. Francesco Olla, Giorgio Saccoccia of the Italian Space Agency, and Stefano Bianco of the European Space Agency.

The opening of SPTF LRE test bench marks the end of the project’s first phase, which is going to be followed by the construction of carbon-free infrastructures. The new Vega C rocket will make its first flight in the very first quarter of the year 2022, but ESA and Avio are already thinking forward to next generation of Vega rockets. In the next years, Vega E (Evolution) will be added to the family of launchers.

The goal of Vega E is to improve Vega C’s competitiveness and performance even more. This will boost its payload mass and volume flexibility while also lowering the launch service expense and the overall cost of launch for every kilo supplied in the market.

In contrast to Vega-C and Vega, that does have four stages, Vega E is going to have three. The first 2 stages of the Vega C will be identical: a P120C solid rocket motor with an average thrust of about 4,500 kN as well as 2nd stage, which will likewise be a solid rocket motor with an average thrust of about 1,304 kN.

The latest 3rd stage, Zefiro 9 and AVUM, will substitute the third and upper stages of the Vega and Vega C, respectively. The stage in question is the M10, which has an expander cycle engine. It can be restarted several times. The full-scale M10 thrust chamber assembly, which is 3D-printed, passed its first hot-fire test in 2020. The engine runs on liquid oxygen (LOX) as well as methane and produces 98 kN of thrust.

The new engine will cut pollutants and waste from combustion, making it more environmentally friendly. The engine is going to be tested again later this year at Space Propulsion Test Facility.

The Vega-E launch system is being developed by companies and institutions from eleven different nations. At the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, the prime contractor, Avio, will work with partners to construct the launcher system and the subsystems, as well as a preliminary design of Vega E’s future launch pad and accompanying infrastructure.

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