A Vega rocket lifts off from Kourou to put an observation satellite into orbit

KOUROU, France | The Vega rocket, Europe’s smallest launcher, took off Monday evening from Kourou, in French Guiana, to place an Earth observation satellite belonging to the Pleiades Neo constellation.

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The craft left Earth at 10:47 p.m. (local time) at the Guyanese Space Center, on a mission that is supposed to take just under two hours. This is Arianespace’s second Vega launch since the start of the year, and the 19th launch since the launcher’s first flight in 2012.

It holds the second of four high-resolution satellites of the constellation Pleiades Neo – the first in orbit since April 28 – as well as four nano-satellites, cubes.

The main cargo is a modern optical satellite manufactured by Pléiades Neo 4. and for Airbus Defense and Space Intelligence, and is planned to be deployed at an orbit of 625 km.

Three of the four cubes are for the European Space Agency for science missions while the fourth is for a French startup, Unseenlabs, that specializes in maritime traffic monitoring.

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