PARIS – A European Vega rocket that was launching a satellite into space was lost shortly after liftoff from the Kourou base in French Guiana, commercial aerospace company Arianespace said on Thursday.
In a statement, Arianespace, an affiliate of aerospace giant Airbus and multinational high-tech producer Safran, said a launcher on the rocket had failed.
“Approximately two minutes after the Vega launcher’s liftoff, shortly after ignition of the second stage (Zefiro 23), a launcher anomaly occurred – leading to the premature end of the mission,” the company said.
“Data analyses are in progress to clarify the reasons for this failure. An independent inquiry commission will be set up in the coming hours,” it continued.
Luce Fabreguettes, the Executive Vice President for Missions, Operations and Purchasing at Arianespace, apologized on behalf of the company for the loss of the customer’s payload.
“From the first flight data analysis, we will get in the coming hours more precise information and we will communicate to everybody at the soonest,” she said.
It is the first time a Varga rocket, which carries light equipment into space, has failed following 14 successful launches since it began operations from the base in the French territory in the north of the South American continent back in 2012.
Arianespace provides launching services for rockets.
The mission had previously been postponed twice due to unfavorable winds at high altitude.
The satellite cargo was manufactured by Airbus Defence and Thales Alenia Space for the United Arab Emirates.
A FalconEye1 model, it was to be used by the UAE’s armed forces for both civilian and military operations.
It was the first of two identical models – the other, FalconEye2, is to be launched at the end of the year – boasting state-of-the-art observation gear complete with high-resolution mapping allowing for surveillance and image processing.
It weighs 1,197 kilograms and is designed to orbit 611 kilometers (379 miles) above the Earth.