France: The multi-launch contract with Spire – a company providing weather, maritime, and aviation data to public and private customers – will cover a significant number of CubeSats to be launched on Vega as part of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service Proof Of Concept (POC) flight in 2019, as well as options on subsequent Vega flights.
With more than 80 satellites placed in orbit during the past four years, Spire has quickly become an important leader in the New Space community. Built in-house by Spire using its LEMUR2 CubeSat platform, the nanosatellites will weigh approximately 5 kg. at launch and are designed to have a nominal service life of two to three years once positioned in a Sun-synchronous orbit at 500 km. Each satellite carries multiple sensors, making them capable of performing data collection for all of Spire’s data products.
The Vega Proof of Concept (POC) flight is the first of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) – a program initiated by the European Space Agency in 2016, with the contribution of the European Commission. For all the European partners involved, its purpose is to perfectly address the promising microsatellite market for both institutional and commercial needs with a new rideshare concept on the Vega light-lift launcher.
Vega is part of the Arianespace launcher family, alongside the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and the medium-lift Soyuz, all of which are operated from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. Avio, based in Colleferro Italy, is Vega’s industrial prime contractor.
Following the signature of this contract, which is the launch services company’s first with Spire, Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said: “We are thrilled to have Spire on board the POC flight of Vega’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service dispenser, which shows Arianespace’s continuous commitment to increased access to space for the growing small satellite market. The Vega launch vehicle offers a flexible solution for this burgeoning segment of the industry.”