Rockets

Arianespace May Experience Vega C Engine Shortages

A rendering of a Vega C rocket flying over Earth
Image: Arianespace

Arianespace’s Vega C rocket’s upper stage uses engines built by Ukrainian space contractor Yuzhmash, Stéphane Israël, Arianespace CEO, said on a panel at Satellite last week. The company has three engines in storage, ESA officials said March 17. That’s not much of a strategic stockpile, especially as doubts linger that the Europeans will be able to procure more. 

Losing access to Soyuz has thrown a monkey wrench into Arianespace’s 2022 plans. Several launches that were set to ride with Soyuz must now find new tickets to space. 

  • One option is to move launches to the Vega C, which has a maiden flight planned for May.
  • ESA is working on building its own M10 engine for the future Vega E rocket, which is targeting 2025 for its first flight. Israël said there’s “no need” to accelerate the Vega E’s development.

A vote of confidence? Avio is Vega’s primary subcontractor. On Friday, the Italian space company said “no specific impacts on Vega and Vega C continuity of operations are foreseen in the medium term.” Procurement of Ukrainian-made parts for Vega and Vega C began “several years ago” and will cover launches expected through 2026, Avio said. 

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