An Arianespace Vega rocket carrying two satellites failed to reach orbit yesterday after experiencing a catastrophic failure eight minutes into the launch. Officials are attributing the loss of the rocket to a “series of human errors.”
Vega Flight VV17 started off well, with the 98-foot-tall (30-meter) rocket departing the Guiana Space Center at 8:52 p.m. ET. The first three stages, all powered by solid-fuel, did their job, propelling the vehicle and its cargo over the Atlantic ocean toward space. It was when the liquid-fueled upper stage kicked in that things went sideways.
According to satellite launch company Arianespace, the trouble began around the eight-minute mark of the mission. At that point, the upper stage, called AVUM (Attitude and Vernier Upper Module), correctly detached itself and ignited, in what was supposed to be the first of four consecutive