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European Space Agency successfully puts three satellites into orbit


20:01, May 07, 2013

PARIS, May 7 (Xinhua) -- A new Vega rocket lifted off at 0206 GMT on Tuesday from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, successfully placing three satellites into orbit, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace announced.

Two Earth observation satellites, ESA's Proba-V and Vietnam's VNREDSat 1A, and Estonia's first satellite ESTCube 1, were released into different orbits, the ESA reported.

With a primary payload of 138,2 kg, Proba V was released into a circular orbit at an altitude of 820 km and carried 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.

Vietnam's VNREDSat-1A is a 115,3 kg commercial remote sensing satellite built by Astrium for Vietnam's Academy of Sciences and Technologies. Estonia's first satellite, the 1.3-kg ESTCube-1 was designed and built by Estonian students.

"This second mission demonstrated Vega's capability to launch multiple satellite stacks, as well as its overall flexibility," the ESA said in a statement.

The flight was conducted under the Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment programme (VERTA) that aims at demonstrating the versatility of the launch system. It also marked the start of the transition from ESA to Arianespace as launch operator.

Arianespace provided flight analysis, preparation and operations, and the marketing that secured VNREDSat 1A as Vega's first commercial payload.

"Vega has confirmed that it is ready to deliver a high-quality service for small payloads to low Earth orbit," said Antonio Fabrizi, ESA's director of launchers. "Europe now has the capability to serve both the government and commercial market in this growing market segment."

This is the second release made in 2013 at the Guiana Space Center by the world's leading satellite launch company.

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