Wire mix up blamed for failure of Spain’s first rocket launch mission

The failure of a European rocket just minutes after lift-off was caused by a production mistake that led to a wiring mix-up and altered the trajectory, its operator said on Tuesday.

Wire mix up blamed for failure of Spain's first rocket launch mission
Photo: Arianespace

The Vega, the lightest of Arianespace's three payload rockets, malfunctioned about eight minutes after launch from the space centre at Kourou, in French Guiana in South America, on Monday.

It broke up in the atmosphere before falling into the Atlantic Ocean, destroying the two satellites it was carrying, including one that would have placed Spain's first into orbit.

Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel said the wire mix-up was made while the launcher was being built by Avio in Italy.   

“It's not a design problem,” he told a press conference, as was the case with a previous Vega failure in July 2019.

“Everything was going as planned during the first part of the flight, but we lost control after the ignition of the fourth rocket stage,” said Roland Lagier, Arianespace's technical director.   

Arianespace and the European Space Agency plan to set up an independent commission to investigate the cause of the failure and determine why any mistakes were not discovered sooner.

“We'll fix it, and we'll be back even stronger,” Israel said, adding that future launch schedules would be maintained.

He nonetheless apologised for the loss of the two satellites: Spain had planned to put up its first Earth observation satellite for the European Space Agency (ESA).

The mission would also have placed into orbit Taranis, a French satellite designed to observe extremely bright electrical phenomena in the planet's upper atmosphere.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


IN PICS: Spectacular images of snow-covered Spain from the air

Satellite images show Spain under a blanket of snow after Storm Filomena dumped the heaviest snowfall recorded in Spain for half a century.

IN PICS: Spectacular images of snow-covered Spain from the air
Photo captured by Sentinel-2 de Copernicus, ESA

The photo appears like a black and white image but infact was produced in colour.

Here's a video showing the footage from the Copernicus Satellite, Sentinel 2.

This video of Madrid was taken from a helicopter on Sunday by a team from ENAIRE (Gestor de Navegación Aérea en España) 

A video released by air traffic control at Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport provides a pilots view of landing a plan during the big freeze on Tuesday morning. 


Even Tenerife had a dusting of snow, captured here on Spain's tallest peak, Mount Telde.