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Timeline for the Vega rocket’s seventh launch

Two orbits. Five satellites. Four upper stage burns. Follow the key events scheduled during the European Vega rocket’s launch from French Guiana with the PeruSat 1 high-resolution reconnaissance satellite and four commercial eyes-in-the-sky owned by Google’s Terra Bella imaging company.

Credit: Arianespace
Credit: Arianespace

T+00:00:00 – Liftoff

The Vega rocket's first stage P80 solid rocket motor ignites and powers the 98-foot-tall booster off the launch pad 0.3 seconds later. The P80 first stage motor generates a maximum of 683,000 pounds of thrust.
The Vega rocket’s first stage P80 solid rocket motor ignites and powers the 98-foot-tall booster off the launch pad 0.3 seconds later. The P80 first stage motor generates a maximum of 683,000 pounds of thrust.

T+00:00:31 – Mach 1

The Vega rocket's first stage P80 solid rocket motor ignites and powers the 98-foot-tall (30-meter) booster off the launch pad 0.3 seconds later. The P80 first stage motor generates a maximum of 683,000 pounds of thrust.
The Vega rocket surpasses the speed of sound as it soars on an easterly trajectory from French Guiana. The rocket will reach Max-Q, the point of maximum aerodynamic pressure, at T+plus 53 seconds.

T+00:01:54 – First stage separation

Having consumed its 194,000 pounds (88 metric tons) of solid propellant, the 9.8-foot-diameter (3-meter) P80 first stage motor is jettisoned at an altitude of about 33 miles (53 kilometers).
Having consumed its 194,000 pounds (88 metric tons) of solid propellant, the 9.8-foot-diameter (3-meter) P80 first stage motor is jettisoned at an altitude of about 33 miles (53 kilometers). The second stage Zefiro 23 motor will ignite a second later to begin its 103-second firing.

T+00:03:38 – Second stage separation

The Zefiro 23 motor burns out and jettisons.
The Zefiro 23 motor burns out and jettisons.

T+00:03:59 – Third stage ignition

Moving at a velocity of nearly 9,000 mph, or about 3.9 kilometers per second, the Vega rocket's Zefiro 9 motor ignites for the third stage burn.
Moving at a velocity of nearly 9,000 mph, or about 3.9 kilometers per second, the Vega rocket’s Zefiro 9 motor ignites for the third stage burn.

T+00:04:04 – Fairing separation

The Vega's 8.5-foot-diameter (2.6-meter) payload fairing is released as the rocket ascends into space.
The Vega’s 8.5-foot-diameter (2.6-meter) payload fairing is released as the rocket ascends into space.

T+00:06:41 – Third stage separation

The Zefiro 9 third stage shuts down and separates, having accelerated the rocket to nearly orbital velocity.
The Zefiro 9 third stage shuts down and separates, having accelerated the rocket to nearly orbital velocity.

T+00:08:07 – First AVUM ignition

The Vega rocket's Attitude and Vernier Module, or fourth stage, ignites for the first time. The AVUM burns hydrazine fuel with an RD-869 engine provided by Yuzhnoye of Ukraine.
The Vega rocket’s Attitude and Vernier Module, or fourth stage, ignites for the first time. The AVUM burns hydrazine fuel with an RD-843 engine provided by Yuzhnoye of Ukraine.

T+00:14:10 – AVUM first cutoff

The Vega's AVUM fourth stage is turned off after an 8-minute, 54-second burn, beginning an 85-minute coast until the engine is ignited again. The first AVUM burn places the rocket and its payloads on a ballistic trajectory.
The Vega’s AVUM fourth stage is turned off after an 6-minute, 3-second burn, beginning a 24-minute coast until the engine is ignited again.

T+00:38:05 – Second AVUM ignition

The AVUM fires a second time to put LISA Pathfinder into its preliminary orbit.
The AVUM fires a second time for a 89-second burn to put the four SkySat satellites into their targeted orbit.

T+00:39:34 – AVUM second cutoff

The AVUM engine shuts down after reaching an elliptical orbit with a high point of 957 miles (1,540 kilometers), a low point of 128 miles (207 kilometers), and an inclination of 5.96 degrees.
The AVUM engine shuts down after reaching a near circular orbit with a high point of 315 miles (508 kilometers), a low point of 305 miles (491 kilometers), and an inclination of 97.4 degrees.

T+00:40:21 – SkySat 4-7 separation

The four SkySat Earth observation satellites mounted in the upper position on the Vega rocket's Vespa dual-payload adapter separate one by one starting at T+plus 40 minutes, 21 seconds, and ending seven seconds later.
The four SkySat Earth observation satellites mounted in the upper position on the Vega rocket’s Vespa dual-payload adapter separate one by one starting at T+plus 40 minutes, 21 seconds, and ending seven seconds later.

T+00:54:44 – Third AVUM ignition

The AVUM's RD-843 engine fires a third time for a 47-second burn to boost into a higher orbit for deployment of PeruSat 1.
After jettisoning a cover to expose the PeruSat 1 satellite, the AVUM’s RD-843 engine fires a third time for a 47-second burn to boost into a higher orbit for deployment of PeruSat 1.

T+00:55:31 – AVUM third cutoff

The AVUM fourth stage shuts down to begin a 46-minute coast phase before its next burn.
The AVUM fourth stage shuts down to begin a 46-minute coast phase before its next burn.

T+01:41:20 – Fourth AVUM ignition

The AVUM main engine ignites a fourth time for a 45-second burn.
The AVUM main engine ignites a fourth time for a 45-second burn.

T+01:42:05 – AVUM fourth cutoff

The RD-843 engine shuts down after reaching an orbit with a low point of 414 miles (667 kilometers), a high point of 425 miles (684 kilometers), and an inclination of 98.2 degrees.
The RD-843 engine shuts down after reaching an orbit with a low point of 414 miles (667 kilometers), a high point of 425 miles (684 kilometers), and an inclination of 98.2 degrees.

T+01:42:59 – PeruSat 1 separation

The 948-pound (430-kilogram) PeruSat 1 satellite separates from the Vega rocket's fourth stage. The upper stage's RD-843 engine will ignite again a few minutes later to head for a disposal orbit.
The 948-pound (430-kilogram) PeruSat 1 satellite separates from the Vega rocket’s fourth stage. The upper stage’s RD-843 engine will ignite again a few minutes later to head for a disposal orbit.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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Timeline for the Vega rocket’s seventh launch

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