Wednesday, December 21, 2022

'tis The Season and Last Launch Until Christmas

My coffee mug these days, a gift from a Christmas party exchange at some time in the past. I refer to this as drinking out of the skulls of my enemies.  

Except that snowmen aren't my enemies.  I've never even seen one in real life.  No snowmen have ever plotted attacks on me or my family.  That I know of.  

The European Space Agency set out to conduct the last publicly scheduled launch in the world before Christmas last night. Unfortunately the second stage of theVega C rocket failed and the mission along with it. The booster was carrying two satellites for Airbus' Pléiades Neo Earth-imaging constellation.  The two, officially Pléiades Neo 5 and Neo 6, were headed to sun-synchronous orbit, where they would have completed Pléiades Neo Earth-imaging constellation.

This was the second launch of the Vega C.  The first was in July of this year, when the rocket successfully launched LARES-2, a 650-pound (295 kg) satellite developed by the Italian Space Agency, as well as six ride-along cubesats; a small payload for rocket rated for 5,070 pounds to a 435 mile-high sun-synchronous orbit.  Last night's payload was 4,359 pounds.  The rocket's first stage did its job, but the second stage, called the Zefiro 40, did not.

"Approximately 2 minutes and 27 seconds after liftoff an anomaly occurred on the Zefiro 40, thus ending the Vega C mission," representatives of Arianespace, the French company that operates the Vega C, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday night. "Data analyses are in progress to determine the reasons of this failure."


"The constellation is made of four identical satellites, built using the latest Airbus innovations and technological developments, and allows to image any point of the globe, several times per day, at 30-centimeter [12 inches] resolution," Arianespace wrote in a mission description of the Vega C.

The next launch scheduled is now SpaceX, Starlink group 5-1, on Wednesday Dec. 28, at 1000 UTC or 5:00 AM EST from SLC-40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. There is one more launch after that one, another Falcon 9 mission on Dec. 29 at 0658 UTC, this time from SLC-4E at Vandenberg SFB.  That's 1:58 AM on the 29th EST, and 10:58 PM on the 28th PST.  The Falcon 9 will be launching the EROS C3 high-resolution Earth-imaging satellite for Israeli company ImageSat International.

This has been a pretty rough year for us here at "Castle Graybeard" and the coming week of "slow news days" is sounding good. I'll be here but expect less serious.


  1. SpaceX is really kicking butt and taking names. I hope they can keep up the pace next year. Ad Astra!

  2. Sometimes closing the gate on the castle is a good idea.

    Be safe and healthy friend.

  3. Cold snap extending down your way, SiG?

    Briefly dipped down into the negatives here in the Great White North last night. Somebody left the freezer door open in Canada, eh?

    1. It'll be cold by Saturday, but not even close to record levels. NOAA is saying 35 while Weather Underground is saying 32. The record for Christmas is 21.