Europe's Vega rocket carrying Emirati satellite lost after launch

Vega left its intended launch course at the beginning of its second-stage firing. Arianespace declared mission loss. Credit Arianespace webcast

Vega left its intended launch course at the beginning of its second-stage firing. Arianespace declared mission loss. Credit Arianespace webcast

"On behalf of Arianespace I wish to express our deepest apologies to our customers for the loss of their payload", he said.

A European Vega rocket carrying an Emirati satellite has been lost shortly after launching on Wednesday evening.

The Italian-built launcher blasted off from a space port in French Guiana at 10:53 pm local time on Wednesday (0153 GMT on Thursday), carrying the FalconEye1 Earth observation satellite with a reported value of several hundred million dollars. After the second ignition stage, it deviated from its course.

"About 2 minutes after liftoff, around the [Zefiro]-23 ignition, a major anomaly occurred, resulting in the loss of the mission", Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace's executive vice president of missions, operations and purchasing, said during the launch webcast. The shares fell after the Vega's mission failed. The vehicle's burning first-stage appears as a bright white dot in the flight video.

"From the first flight data analysis, we will get in the coming hours more precise information, and we will communicate to everybody at the soonest".

Arianespace, the French commercial space launch service, confirmed in a statement that "a launcher anomaly" two minutes after lift-off led to a "premature end to the mission".

The second stage engine was supposed to fire for 77 seconds and make way for the liquid-fueled third and fourth stage rockets. To remain competitive, Europe's rockets must be able to lift every type of satellite payload into every conceivable type of orbit. The mission was delayed twice after unfavorable weather conditions forced Arianespace to scrub launch.

It is the first time a Varga rocket, which carries light equipment into space, has failed following 14 successful launches since it began operations from the base in the French territory in the north of the South American continent back in 2012.

The satellite was developed by Airbus and the aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space.