The Vega C rocket, developed by the European Space Agency and operated by Arianespace, crashed about two minutes after launch. The two Airbus satellites it had on board were lost.
According to Space.com, the rocket launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana at 5:47 Yerevan time. The rocket's first stage, P120C, coped with its work, but about two minutes and 27 seconds after launch, the second stage, Zefiro 40, malfunctioned, causing the rocket to crash and the mission ended.
The rocket carried two Airbus space satellites, Pléiades Neo 5 and Pléiades Neo 6, which together weighed about 1977 kilograms. Both satellites were to be put into a sun-synchronous orbit and become part of the Pléiades Neo constellation, which is dedicated to Earth observation and can take images of any point in the world several times a day with a resolution of 30 cm. These satellites are considered to be the most advanced in their class today: they can take an image of the desired area within 15 minutes after receiving a command, and the Earth will receive these images within an hour.
This was the second mission with this rocket. The first mission was in July 2022, and during its Vega C was successfully launched into space 295-kilogram satellite LARES-2 and six associated satellites.
The start of the second mission was originally scheduled for Nov. 24, but it had to be postponed for almost a month because of the discovery of faulty equipment in the rocket. Specialists had to open the payload fairing of the rocket at the technological plant in Kuru to replace it.
Experts are now analyzing the available data to determine the cause of the rocket crash. Arianespace also promised to hold a teleconference with a report on the incident.
Recently the mission to launch the world's first orbital rocket Zhuque-2, powered by methane, also failed: the rocket failed to reach orbit, resulting in the loss of 14 satellites that were on board it. The cause of the crash of this rocket was also reportedly a malfunction in the second stage.