Vega flight VV16


Vega flight VV16, also called SSMS PoC Flight (for Small Spacecraft Mission Service Proof of Concept Flight), was the 16th launch of the Vega rocket.[2][3] The launch was also notable as it was the first Vega launch following the accident of the VV15 launch in July 2019 that caused the loss of FalconEye1 satellite.

Vega flight VV16
A Vega launch vehicle and the SSMS dispenser in front of the Earth.
CNES CSG sticker artwork
Vega launch
Launch3 September 2020,
01:51:10 UTC[1]
PadKourou, ELV
Payload53 satellites
Vega launches
← VV15
VV17 →


This first low Earth orbit rideshare commercial flight for 21 customers embarked a total of 65 satellites (53 satellites to be released by the launch vehicle directly plus an additional 12 that were later released by one of them) arranged in the modular SSMS dispenser.[2]

Of the 53 satellites that were released, 7 microsatellites weigh between 15.4 kg and 150 kg (one of them contained 12 CubeSats), while the other 46 are smaller CubeSats (between 0.25U and 6U) weighing between 0.250 kg and 7 kg:[2]

Payload configuration
Name Mass Orbit Lifetime Owner Manufacturer Application Notes
ATHENA 138 kg 515 km SSO 2 years PointView (Facebook) Maxar Technologies Telecommunication [4][5][6]
GHGSat-C1 15.4 kg 515 km SSO 3 years GHGSat SFL Remote sensing
NEMO-HD 65 kg 515 km SSO 3-5 years Space-SI SFL with Space-SI Remote sensing
UPM-Sat 2 45 kg 515 km SSO 2 years IDR-UPM IDR-UPM Tech. demo.
ESAIL 112 kg 515 km SSO 4 years ExactEarth LuxSpace Remote sensing
ION CubeSat Carrier (& Flock-4v 15-26) 150 kg 515 km SSO 4 years Planet Labs D-Orbit Tech. demo. Contained 12 CubeSats to be released later, namely Flock-4v 15-26.[7]
NewSat-6 43.5 kg 515 km SSO 3-4 years Satellogic Satellogic Remote sensing
SpaceBEE 10-21 530 km SSO Swarm Technology Swarm Technology Telecommunication 12 CubeSats (0.25U)
Flock-4v 1-14 530 km SSO Planet Labs Planet Labs Remote sensing 14 CubeSats (3U). They were part of a larger batch of 26; the remaining 12 (Flock-4v 15-26) were deployed separately by the ION CubeSat Carrier.[7]
Lemur-2 112-119 530 km SSO SPIRE Global SPIRE Global Telecommunication 8 CubeSats (3U)
³Cat-5 /A and /B 530 km SSO UPC and ESA Deimos and Tyvak Remote sensing 2 CubeSats (6U)
DIDO-3 530 km SSO SpacePharma SpacePharma Research 1 CubeSat (3U)
PICASSO-BE 530 km SSO ESA BIRA-IASB Remote sensing 1 CubeSat (3U)
SIMBA 530 km SSO ESA KMI-IRM Remote sensing 1 CubeSat (3U)
TRISAT 530 km SSO University of Maribor SkyLabs Remote sensing 1 CubeSat (3U)
TTÜ-100 530 km SSO TalTech TalTech Remote sensing 1 CubeSat (2U)
AMICal Sat 530 km SSO CSUG and MSU CSUG and SatRevolution Remote sensing 1 CubeSat (1U)
NAPA-1 530 km SSO Royal Thai Air Force ISISpace Remote sensing 1 CubeSat (6U)
TARS-1 530 km SSO Kepler Communications ÅAC Clyde Space Telecommunication 1 CubeSat (6U)
Tyvak-0171 530 km SSO (undisclosed) Tyvak (undisclosed) 1 CubeSat (6U)
OSM-1 Cicero 530 km SSO Orbital Solutions Tyvak Remote sensing 1 CubeSat (6U)

Launch campaignEdit

Launch campaign activities were significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To prevent the spread of the epidemic in French Guiana and protect Guiana Space Centre employees, all launch activities were suspended on 16 March 2020.[8][9][10] Operations for VV16 and Ariane flight VA253 could not resume until 28 April 2020.[11][12][13] VV16 activities were listed among the top priorities at the reopening of the Guiana Space Center on 11 May 2020.[14]

It was initially scheduled to take place on 19 June 2020 at 01:51:10 UTC but got postponed due to unfavourable high-altitude winds.[15][16] The launch was then postponed to take place on 27 June 2020,[17] and later to 29 June 2020 due to the weather conditions, and had to be postponed again until 17 August 2020. Then postponed due to Ariane 5 flight VA253 launch on 15 August 2020 at 22:04 UTC.

Arianespace announced on 1 September 2020 that the mission was postponed. Typhoon Maysak is forecast to move near the South Korean island of Jeju, the site of a telemetry station needed to track the Vega rocket after it lifts off from French Guiana. The tracking station will be secured ahead of the typhoon's arrival. "A new launch date will be set based on the evolution of the tropical storm's situation over the Jeju station and its consequences", Arianespace said in a statement.[18] The launch date was further adjusted to 2 September 2020,[19] then on 3 September 2020 at 01:51:10 UTC.[17]


The flight was launched from the ELV launch pad in Kourou, Centre Spatial Guyanais.[2]

It deployed all satellites into 2 slightly different sun-synchronous orbits: the 7 heaviest satellites were separated at an altitude of roughly 515 km (starting 40 minutes and 25 seconds until 52 minutes and 35 seconds after liftoff), before the upper stage was re-ignited to place the 46 lightest satellites at an altitude of approximately 530 km (starting 1 hour 42 minutes and 16 seconds until 1 hour 44 minutes and 56 seconds after liftoff).[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Launch operations resume for Vega Flight VV16". Arianespace. 2 September 2020. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Vega flight VV16 launch kit" (PDF). Arianespace. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Rideshare service for light satellites to launch on Vega". European Space Agency. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  4. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Athena". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  5. ^ "PointView Public Summary" (PDF). NOAA. Retrieved 17 June 2020.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ "PointView Tech LLC Experimental License FCC Filings". FCC Report. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 17 June 2020.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  7. ^ a b "Flock-1, -1b, -1c, -1d, -1d', -1e, -1f, -2b, -2e, -2e', -2k, -2p, -3m, -3p, -3p', -3r, -3s, -4a, -4e, -4p, -4v". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  8. ^ Arianespace, March 16, 2020, "Face à l'épidémie de Covid-19 et pour mettre pleinement en œuvre les mesures décidées par le gouvernement français, les campagnes de lancement en cours au Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) sont suspendues".
  9. ^ CNES, March 16, 2020, "Au Centre Spatial Guyanais, suspension des campagnes de lancement, mise et maintien en sécurité des moyens opérationnels de la base, des lanceurs et des satellites en attente de lancement".
  10. ^ CNES, March 23, 2020, "All launch preparations have been suspended due to the potential uncertainty and danger of the health situation at a time when great care needs to be taken to prevent the spread of the epidemic in French Guiana".
  11. ^ CNES, April 28, 2020, "Operations to ready for Vega flight VV16 and Ariane 5 flight VA253 have resumed. Teams stationed permanently in French Guiana have been working to restore the base to its operational configuration since 21 April, applying the necessary distancing and transmission reduction measures".
  12. ^ Arianespace, April 29, 2020, "Following the measures presented by the French government on April 28 as part of the gradual resumption of activity planned from May 11, and the announcement of a restart of operational activities at the Centre Spatial Guyanais, Arianespace confirms its following launch objectives: [...] Flight VA253 – A dual-payload Ariane 5 mission for two customers, Intelsat and B-SAT, at the end of July".
  13. ^ Henry 2020, "The reopening of the Guiana Space Centre, which suspended operations in mid-March as part of France’s effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to allow Arianespace to resume satellite launches from there by mid-June."
  14. ^ CNES, May 11, 2020, "Priority projects and operations that will be resuming on site at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) are: the Vega VV16 and Ariane VA253 launch campaigns and the arrival of teams who will be observing a strict 14-day quarantine from 11 and 25 May respectively".
  15. ^ "Flight VV16: Vega – SSMS PoC Flight – Launch delay due to weather conditions". Arianespace. Arianespace. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Vega Flight VV16 – the SSMS PoC mission – New postponement due to weather conditions". Arianespace. 19 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Flight VV16: Vega – SSMS PoC Flight – Resumption of launch operations". Arianespace. 27 June 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  18. ^ "Vega launch from French Guiana delayed by typhoon on other side of the world". Spaceflight Now. 1 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  19. ^ "Vega Flight VV16". Retrieved 16 August 2020.

External linksEdit