April 29, 2021, at 04:50 Kyiv time from the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana, the 16th successful launch of the European Vega launch vehicle (LV) took place.
As the main load, ordered by Airbus Defense and Space, the Vega launch vehicle launched the Pléiades Neo 3 spacecraft weighing about 750 kg into orbit. It is the first of four satellites that, once fully deployed (Pléiades Neo 3, 4, 5, 6), will be able to visit anywhere in the world twice a day and provide commercial and institutional consumers with high-resolution images.
Also, within the framework of the European Space Agency's Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) program, five additional auxiliary payloads were launched into orbit - the Norsat-3 observation microsatellite for the Norwegian Space Agency and four cubesats for the Eutelsat, NanoAvionics /Aurora Insight and Spire operators.
The main engine block (BMD) RD-843, which is used as part of the liquid propulsion system of the 4th stage of the Vega LV, was developed by Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and is serially produced by Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant PO. A distinctive feature of the BMD RD-843 is the ability to launch multiple times during flight (up to 5 starts), which ensures the deployment of satellites into different orbits.
Work is underway to improve engine performance in order to expand the range of payloads to be delivered.
In total, Vega has launched 18 times since 2012.