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Motor problem blamed for rocket launch accident

Image: European Space Agency

The failure of a European Vega rocket launcher, which destroyed an Earth-observation satellite owned by the United Arab Emirates, was most likely caused by a motor problem, an investigation has concluded.

Results of an “exhaustive analysis” of data on the failed launch and possible causes of it were announced on 5 September by Arianespace, the European satellite launch company that the UAE contracted to deliver its FalconEye1 satellite into orbit.

The analysis concluded that the most likely cause of the problems during Vega Flight VV15 was a heat-related structural failure in the forward dome area of one of the launcher’s motors, Arianespace said. The accident, which happened on 11 July, was the first to afflict a Vega launcher, following 14 successful launches.

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