Two Airbus satellites are lost after rocket fails | Mint

Two Airbus satellites are lost after rocket fails

REUTERS
REUTERS

Summary

  • Arianespace, European Space Agency appointing independent panel to investigate

Two Earth-imagery satellites developed by aerospace company Airbus SE were lost after the rocket they were on failed shortly after liftoff Tuesday night.

Arianespace SAS, the company operating the rocket, said Wednesday that an engine on part of the vehicle had experienced a drop in pressure. That prompted officials overseeing safety for the flight to send a command to destroy the vehicle, in keeping with standard operating procedures.

“It is a challenging moment for all the Airbus teams" involved in the satellites, Airbus said.

The Tuesday-night flight from the European rocket-launch facility in South America began normally. No one was injured, Arianespace said.

The two destroyed satellites would have completed an Airbus satellite fleet called Pléiades Neo, which the aerospace company has said provides customers with sophisticated imagery of Earth. Two satellites currently in orbit are already delivering imagery, according to the company.

The rocket that failed Tuesday night is called Vega C. Arianespace and the European Space Agency are appointing an independent panel to investigate, the company said.

Stéphane Israël, Arianespace’s chief executive, apologized for the failure at a briefing Wednesday.

Based in France, Arianespace operates several rockets, launching from a site on the coast of French Guiana. The company competes with other rocket companies to handle space flights for government and commercial customers.

A year ago, Arianespace operated the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, a sophisticated observatory that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration spent years developing.

The company was one of three launch providers that earlier this year were selected to deploy satellites for the fleet of broadband satellites that Amazon.com Inc. plans to deploy.

The Webb telescope was launched on a different rocket than the vehicle that failed, and Arianespace plans to use another booster under its contract with Amazon.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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