Human error caused a rocket to crash on launch – nearly $ 400 million lost

The failure on Monday of the mission of the European rocket Vega that carried a Spanish satellite and another French observation of the Earth, was due to a problem during the manufacturing process, the operator said Tuesday Arianespace.

A “cable reversal” problem occurred during the “production” of the rocket manufactured by Avio in Italy, the president of Arianespace, Stéphane Israël.

The shuttle, which was going to put the two satellites into orbit, suffered an anomaly that deviated its trajectory eight minutes after its takeoff at 10:52 p.m. on Monday (01:52 GMT on Tuesday) at the base of Kurú, in the French guiana.

This is the second major incident for Vega in less than two years: in mid-2019, it registered a failure that led to its destruction as a precautionary measure. On that occasion, the problem was related to the design of the device.

“It is a quality problem, a series of human errors,” explained Roland Lagier, technical director of Arianespace. “Everything happened as planned during the first part of the flight. We lost control at the moment of ignition of the fourth stage”, which carries the payload, he continued.

Israël reported that a commission of inquiry between Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) will work from Wednesday to confirm what happened and determine why the error “was not detected or corrected”.

The rocket fell into the sea after having fragmented in the atmosphere.

“We present our sincere apologies to our clients,” said the president of Arianespace, assuring that the operator will emerge “strengthened” from this failure.

This was the second mission in 2020 for Vega, which has had a “difficult year” (2 launches out of 4 planned), explained on Monday Mario Fragnito, director of Vega, pointing to the causes of the Covid-19 epidemic and unfavorable weather conditions in Guyana.

This light shuttle began operating in 2012 from Kurú and Monday’s mission was number 17. It is also the seventh launch of the year for Arianespace, which also markets the Ariane rocket flights.

On July 10, 2019, shortly after takeoff, Vega, which was due to put a United Arab Emirates military satellite into orbit, registered a major anomaly, probably due to a failure in the front of the second stage engine.

Arianespace announced on Tuesday that it maintains the program of its next three launches, scheduled until the end of the year.


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