On June 28, a new anomaly occurred during a test of the second stage engine of the Vega C launcher, carried out at the Avio facilities in Sardinia.
We remember that the failure of the first commercial mission of the European light launcher Vega C (VV22), on December 22, was caused by the failure of a carbon-carbon composite nozzle neck, manufactured in Ukraine.
The defective part had caused a pressure drop inside the second stage of the launcher (with solid propellant), three seconds after a nominal ignition.
Following the recommendations of the independent commission of inquiry commissioned by theEuropean Space Agency (launch system development authority) and Arianespace (launch services operator), the Italian manufacturer Airplane (the prime contractor for the launcher) carried out on June 28 in the facilities of the joint base of Salto di Quirra, in Sardinia, a test of the engine Zefiro 40 fitted with a new carbon-carbon insert, this time supplied by ArianeGroup.
The objective was to achieve maximum operating pressure, in order to demonstrate a large margin of performance.
Alas, after 40 seconds of operation and when the test was supposed to last 97 seconds, the pressure began to drop and the insert, according to some sources, was ejected and would not be eroded – revealing a larger problem of ‘architecture ?
The day after, Daniel Neuenschwanderwho was then living his last hours as director of space transport for theESAtold the press that “in the present state of our knowledge, it seems that the new carbon material works nominally, and that the primary cause of this anomaly must be sought elsewhere”.
VV23 early September
For Joseph Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, “it is clear that this will have an impact, because this was a very important step in our roadmap for the return to flight. »
Daniel Neuenschwander stressed, however, that Vega’s next flight, scheduled for early September, was not affected by the Zefiro 40 problem (its second stage is equipped with the Zefiro 23), and that the VV23 launch campaign “nominally continues”. at the Guiana Space Center.