Arianespace’ Vega rocket launching Cubesats.

Arianespace’ Vega rocket launching Cubesats

Arianespace is one of the world’s leading satellite launch company, operating a full family of launchers: Ariane 5 for heavy lift spacecraft, the Soyuz for medium size and Vega for light weight spacecraft.

The French multinational company was the world’s first commercial launch serviceprovider and operates five locations worldwide for the production, operation and marketing of the Ariane program. Arianespace operates its launch services from South America (at the Spaceport in French Guiana) and Central Asia (at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazachstan).

The company was founded in 1980 and has its headquarters in Courcouronnes, France, near Paris. Arianespace, a subsidiary of The Arianegroup, launched more than 550 satellites since 1980. Total revenues in 2018 exceeded 1.4 billion euros.

On 21 October 2011 Arianespace launched the first Soyuz rocket ever from outside former Soviet territory. The payload was two Galileo navigation satellites.

Arianespace primary shareholders are its suppliers, in the various nations of the EU. Arianespace currently has 20 shareholders with France as the largest stakeholder (64%) in the Ariane development program. Other countries that support the program are Germany (20%), Belgium (3,5%), Denmark, Spain (2%), Italy (3%), The Netherlands (2%), Norway (0,1%), Sweden and Switzerland (2,7%).

Arianespace launched satellites for all major satellite operators, such as Intelsat, Eutelsat, Telesat, SKY Perfect JSAT from Japan, ISRO from India, Hellas-Sat (ArabSat) and many others.


The Vega launcher, manufactured and delivered to Arianespace by Avio, is a four-stage orbital rocket that was first developed in 1998 and had its maiden flight in February 13th 2012 carrying scientific satellite for international customers.

The Vega will launch small satellites ranging in size from 1 kgs to 500 kgs for the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) program that was created by ESA in cooperation with the EU. The program was started to help bolster Arianespace’s response to the rideshare demands of the ever-growing small satellite launch market.

The Vega project was conceived in Italy in 1988, when a US-built Scout launcher carrying Italian satellites from a floating platform off the coast of Kenya was retired. To replace it, the Italian firm BPD Difesa Spazio proposed to the newly formed Italian Space Agency (ASI), a domestically built rocket. The new vehicle would be based on the Zefiro motor developed by the company for the European Ariane program.

The Vega launcher can orbit spacecraft with a maximum payload mass of 1,45 tonnes to LEO.