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EU Launches Vega Rocket With Ukrainian Engine

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Photo; EU Launches Vega Rocket With Ukrainian Engine. Source: esa.int
Photo; EU Launches Vega Rocket With Ukrainian Engine. Source: esa.int

The European Union (EU) has successfully launched the Vega carrier rocket with a Ukrainian engine on board, as part of the Horizon 2020 Program. This launch took place from the European spaceport in French Guiana and marked the initiation of three new missions for orbital demonstration and verification. 

This announcement comes from the press service of the European Commission.

The EU's program allows for testing experiments in space and verifying flights in real-world conditions for scientific, public, or commercial purposes. Testing technologies in orbit is the final step before their market deployment. With these missions, the European Union, supported by the European Space Agency, bridges the gap between technology development and commercialization. It's an effective way to enhance the competitiveness of the European space industry through innovation.

For the first time under Horizon 2020, the EU is launching consolidated missions comprising seven experiments covering various areas, from space science and technology to propulsion and space traffic management. These missions are executed by the Dutch aerospace company ISISpace, while the satellites are produced by universities and companies from Belgium, Spain, France, and the Czech Republic.

Another mission, ESTCube-2, developed by students at the University of Tartu in Estonia, will test a method of deorbiting using plasma braking technology, utilizing an electric sail—a woven aluminum tether about half a millimeter thick. A charge running along it generates a magnetic pulse, which, due to the resistance of Earth's magnetic field, will gradually slow down the satellite and reduce its altitude.

The ANSER mission, developed by the Spanish Institute of Aerospace Technology, aims to study and monitor the water quality in the Pyrenees Peninsula's reservoirs.

The satellites will capture images of Earth in visible and near-infrared wavelengths, providing insights into water content in water bodies, including pollution levels or the presence of toxic microorganisms.

The Block Marсhing Engine (BME) RD-843, used in the liquid propulsion system of the Vega rocket's fourth stage, was developed by "Design Bureau Yuzhnoye" and manufactured by the State Enterprise "Production Association Southern Machine-Building Plant" in Ukraine.

One distinctive feature of the RD-843 BME is its ability for multiple restarts during flight (up to 5 times), enabling the deployment of satellites into different orbits.

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