European Vega rocket successfully returns to flight after a year-long hiatus

After numerous delays, the rocket finally took to the

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Those options have their benefits and their drawbacks. “If you have a bigger vehicle that has a lot of space, which will allow you to have good pricing, you have to pack a lot of satellites in there and you have to send everybody to the same orbit, which doesn’t give you much flexibility if you want to go to a different altitude, for example,” Guillen says. “At the same time, if you’re too little, if it is on a dedicated flight, it could be very expensive.

Future launches could include an even more varied payload. “Our dispenser is unique because it is very flexible, and you can adapt to different missions,” Stella Guillen, vice president of sales and marketing for Arianespace, tells The Verge. “You can carry different sizes of satellites from [standardized] CubeSats to micro-satellites.

The company’s other vehicle is the Ariane 5, soon to be upgraded to the Ariane 6, which is used to launch much heavier missions to higher orbits. “I think together the two new launch vehicles in Vega-C and the Ariane 6 complement each other very well so that we can basically launch any size to any orbit at any time,” says Guillen. “I think it’s a very, very unique situation for us.

Late Wednesday night, European launch provider Arianespace successfully launched its Vega rocket from French Guiana, the vehicle’s first flight in more than a year.

She also says that a future, more powerful version of Vega, called Vega-C, will be able to do some boost maneuvers in flight, allowing the vehicle to drop satellites off at different orbits if necessary.

The flight’s main goal was to demonstrate a new, unique launch dispenser designed by the European Space Agency and Avio, capable of deploying multiple types of satellites while on one trip to space.

There are multiple ways to get tiny satellites into space right now, either by hitching rides on much larger rockets such as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 or ULA’s Atlas V — or by launching on a dedicated small rocket like Rocket Lab’s Electron.

Ultimately, Arianespace hopes to fly full ride-share missions like the Vega launch a couple of times each year.

Now that Vega is flying again, Arianespace hopes that the rocket will become something of a Goldilocks ride-share option for small satellite operators.

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