The failed satellite mission by Arianespace in December 2022 was attributed to a faulty carbon component. According to the company’s inquiry, the nozzle throat insert was made of a defective carbon/carbon composite. It was obtained by Avio from a Ukrainian source and was most likely to blame for the failure. Arianespace, a company that competes with SpaceX and is owned by Airbus and Safran, has Avio as a partner.
Two Airbus Defence & Space satellites were carried by the operation, which was launched from French Guiana. When a problem with the Zefiro 40 rocket motor arose, the mission was lost about two and a half minutes into the flight. Arianespace’s examination proved there was no flaw in the construction of the Zefiro 40 motor, which drives the Vega C rocket’s second stage.
According to Arianespace, the carbon/carbon composite material is no longer permitted to fly. The corporation added that this launch by Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) was the third failure out of eight attempts on the Vega platform. It was also the Vega C rocket model’s second launch. Attempts by Europe to compete with China, Russia, and the United States in the space race have encountered difficulties.
ESA chief Josef Aschbacher expressed worry that domestic firms’ inability to compete with foreign rivals could jeopardize Europe’s access to space. He emphasized the necessity of ongoing, fruitful missions in order to preserve Europe’s independence in space exploration and technology. Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel apologized to Airbus and said it was unacceptable that the two satellites had been lost.
The carbon material was obtained from a Ukrainian supplier between 2015 and 2017 for the Vega C rocket’s development phase, according to Giulio Ranzo, CEO of Avio, the rocket’s primary contractor. There were no sufficient amounts of a comparable commodity at the time inside the European Union. The material is incredibly sophisticated and is exposed to temperatures of more than 3,000 degrees Celsius, he continued. This means that even a little flaw can result in performance issues.
Ranzo wants to hire more engineers and supply chain managers. Their goal is to work on the Vega C rocket in order to fix the problem. At the end of the year, the partners want to launch the next Vega C. Pressure is mounting on the European space sector to prove that it can participate in the international space race and keep its technological independence. Maintaining trust in Europe’s space ambitions and capacity to fulfill its commitments depends on the success of its missions.