_LARES – The Laser Relativity Satellite – is the main Payload fro the maiden Flight of the new Vega Launch Vehicle. The Satellite is an Italian Space Agency Payload which was built by Carlo Gavazzi Space SpA.
The Spacecraft is a passive spacecraft, without any powered onboard systems, attitude control systems and electronics. This spherical satellite was built from a ball of tungsten and features 92 retroreflectors. At Launch, the Satellite weighs 400 Kilograms. It is 36 centimeters in diameter. LARES will be delivered in a 1450-Kilometer Orbit with an inclination of about 70° and an eccentricity approaching zero.
The Spacecraft’s mission build on the previous Lageos-1 and Lageos-2 Flights and will improve their measurements of the Lense-Thirring effect by a factor of 10. This effect is a part of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and describes the distortion of space-time caused by the rotation of a body with a large mass (Earth). The Satellite will be tracked by bouncing laser signals off its 92 reflectors and its exact position will be determined. Comparing the actual location of LARES to predictions will enable scientists to measure the frame-dragging effect (=Lense Thirring). LARES will measure the effect with an accuracy of one percent. The International Laser Ranging Service will use its global network of laser tracking stations to support the mission. Understanding the Lense-Thirring Effect around a body will increase understanding of physical properties of distant bodies of even greater mass such as black holes and neutron stars.
LARES was chosen for the first flight of Vega as it is a relatively cost-efficient payload to accommodate the fairly large risk associated with the first flight of a new vehicle. After the demonstration flight, more expensive payloads will be launched aboard Vega.
_ALMASat-1 is the ALma MAter SATellite built and developed by the University of Bologne. The satellite is a small satellite with a mass of 12.5 Kilograms. The 30-centimeter cube is a modular structure that can be utilized for technology demonstrations in Earth Orbit or Earth Observation Missions. The main objective for the first flight of the Satellite is to validate the Satellite Platform and Bus System and demonstrate its capabilities. ALMASat will have a short mission duration and will deorbit within 25 years after launch.
_Seven CubeSats will be orbited on the first flight of Vega. CubeSats are very small satellites that often include educational payloads designed by students. The satellites are of standardized dimensions. (Cubes of 10cm with a mass not exceeding 1 Kilogram).
UniCubeSat GG was developed at the University of Rome La Sapienza and will deploy two booms to demonstrate gravity-gradient stabilization on a small satellite. Electrical power is provided by two solar panels at the end of the booms.
MaSAT-1 was built at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. The satellite will demonstrate various spacecraft avionics, including a power conditioning system, transceiver and onboard data handling.
Developed at the University of Bucharest, Romania, Goliat will make a short duration Earth Observation Mission. The CubeSat uses a digital camera as well as in-situ measurement of radiation dose and micrometeoroid flux to obtain scientific data.
PW-Sat is a mission to test a deployable atmospheric drag augmentation device to de-orbit satellites and reduce the issue of orbital debris. The Payload was developed at the Warsaw University of Technology in Poland. It will be Poland’s first satellite.
e-st@r was designed at the Polytechnics Institute of Turin, Italy. The Satellite will demonstrate an active three-axis attitude determination and control system including an inertial measurement unit.
Robusta was built in France and is a mission to test electronic components. The Satellite will study the effect of radiation in Earth orbit based on bipolar transistors.
Xatcobeo is the product of a collaboration of the University of Vigo and INTA, Spain. The CubeSat will evaluate a software-defined reconfigurable radio system and test a new procedure to deploy solar panels.
The e-st@r CubeSat