A Vega rocket launched by France’s Arianespace failed shortly after liftoff on Monday night local time,media reported. The rocket, along with the payloads of its two orbiters, the SEOSAT-Ingenio and Taranis satellites, is understood to have been destroyed, the second time Vega has failed in its past three launch attempts.
Now, preliminary investigations into the cause of the failure have shown that it was caused by some very unfortunate human error. According to Spaceflight Now, engineers analyzed data from the launch and subsequent failures and concluded that it appeared that two cables had flipped, causing the spacecraft and its payload to be lost without being connected to the correct position on the upper stage of the rocket.
The report quoted Roland Lagier, Arianespace’s chief technology officer, as saying that the cable connected to the rocket’s first-stage thrust vector-controlled executor had flipped. This is a man-made error and it can occur during assembly.
The signal generated by the reverse cable is intended to produce a change in direction, but the opposite is true. These changes have left engineers out of control of the rocket, which would be a death sentence for anything that flies into space. It is reported that before the problem, the rocket flew for about 8 minutes, and eventually, the spacecraft was destroyed.
This is unfortunate for Arianespace, especially for customers who have damaged satellites due to mismatched cables. SEOSAT-Ingenio was sent into space by Spain to look back at Earth and transmit important observations, while France’s Taranis satellite was used to detect and study mysterious discharges from thunderstorms, Spaceflight Now reported.
But the good news — if anything — is that Arianespace believes the rocket’s failure has nothing to do with the failure of another Vega rocket last year. CEO Stephane Israel called Monday’s launch failure a quality and production issue and said the company is reviewing all processes to better understand why the integration error was not corrected. He added: “We will be 100 per cent transparent. “
Of course, the investigation is not yet complete, but according to engineers so far, the cause of the rocket failure seems to have been determined.