Succesful lift-off for Vega rocket
13 February 2012, 17:46
Italy - Europe's new Vega rocket lifted off successfully from Kourou
spaceport in French Guiana on its first test flight on Monday.
30m-tall Vega, which was designed in Italy and took nearly a decade to
complete, lifted off at 10:00 GMT on its maiden voyage, which was to
last 81 minutes.
The diminutive Vega, which can carry payloads of
up to 2 500kg, completes the European family of rockets, which includes
the heavy-duty Ariane 5 and the mid-size Russian-built Soyuz.
rocket will release nine satellites into orbit on its maiden flight:
Two Italian satellites and seven pico satellites provided by European
The Vega was developed by seven European countries at a cost of nearly €790m ($1bn).
The last time the ESA launched a new rocket was on June 4 1996, when it carried out the first test flight of the Ariane 5.
That rocket exploded 40 seconds after lift-off from Kourou. An investigation later identified a software error.
Get the latest news by following us on Twitter