VEGA : successful launch, the reward of nine years' hard work !

Feb 2012

All elements of the new VEGA launcher have been tested and qualified during the last years and today, the complete rocket, 30 metre high, successfully performed its first qualification flight from the Kourou launch base in French Guyana.

SABCA is a major actor and partner in this launcher that has been developed in the frame of the European Space agency (ESA).

Thanks to its broad know-how acquired during the Ariane programs, SABCA has taken the full responsibility of the development, qualification and manufacturing of the following elements and subsystems :

• The lower cylindrical structure of the launcher, that is integrated in the first stage and stands on the launch-pad. It consists of a three meter diameter , one metre high ring, that supports the whole weight of the launcher, around 140 tons.

• An electromechanical system, the Thrust Vectoring Control (TVC) System, that tilts the nozzle of each engine of the four stages in order to steer the rocket. Each TVC system possesses its control and power electronics, whose heart is a high performance HBRISC2 microprocessor hardened against the space radiations, the associated software, two electromechanical servo-actuators, all developed by SABCA, as well as Li-ion batteries. This assembly represents a new generation system for space launchers.

SABCA thus has the responsibility of pointing the nozzles of each engine in the right direction as determined by the on-board computer.

This first successful launch is the reward of nine hard work years for SABCA‘s two engineering offices (Structures and Mechatronics), using the best knowl-how of around 35 engineers and highly qualified technicians for this program only.

Thanks to the support of the Belgian Federal Service for Scientific Policy, always keen to maintain and develop competency niches, today’s success is also the confirmation of the validity of the approach taken by SABCA since the beginning of the VEGA program, evolving from an electro-hydraulic TVC such as on the Ariane launcher, towards an electro-mechanical system.

SABCA also demonstrated its capability to upgrade from an equipment manufacturer status to become responsible for subsystems.

In the same spirit, SABCA also strongly improved the structural ring from the concepts used on Ariane and developed a light structure without any major assembly.

All these new technological approaches will be proposed by SABCA for the improvement of the existing launchers and, of course, for the development of new generation launchers.

SABCA is a leading Belgian Aerospace company since amore than 91 years, employing 1000 highly trained persons. SABCA is active in civil aircraft design and manufacturing(Airbus, Dassault, Gulfstream), military aircraft overhaul and upgrades (F16, Mirage F1, Alphajet, helicopters, etc…) as well as in space programs (Ariane, Vega). These activities cover structural work as well as thrust vectoring systems and systems integration. SABCA has plants in Brussels and Charleroi, and a fully owned subsidiary SABCA Limburg nv, specialized in aerospace composites.

For more information, write to:

Marketing & Sales Director SABCA

Fax +32 2 729 5896 or


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