Failed mission. A chain of human errors has truncated the dream of putting the first 100% Spanish civilian satellite into orbit. Ingenio was called to become a new milestone in the Spanish aerospace industry, but the mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), in charge of putting it into orbit, has failed. Eight minutes after its launch from the Kurú space complex (in French Guiana), the Vega rocket, which was carrying the satellite, deviated from its trajectory. At 2:00 am, the trail of one of the country’s great technological bets was lost. The Canary Islands Space Center, in Maspalomas, was to be one of those responsible for receiving the images taken by the satellite and monitoring its operation.
A chain of human errors makes the launch of the Spanish satellite fail
“Frustration hurts more than economic loss,” says the director of the Canary Islands Space Center, Rafael Sahagun. Who details that the daily work of the Gran Canaria station will not be affected after the loss of Ingenio, although they will no longer have to periodically test the health of the satellite, or receive the images taken by this instrument from space, as planned. From this center of the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) every day an average of 20 satellites are monitored. Sahagun points out “this is the first time something similar has happened with a national project” and regrets that the work of so many years is frustrated in a second. Although, the director of the Canary Islands Space Center highlights the effort made by the Ministry of Science and Innovation in R + D + i by leading the initiative from the Industrial Technological Development Center (CDTI).
Although the investigation is in a preliminary phase, with the available data, the Arianespace space consortium, operator of the Vega rocket, announced yesterday that it was not a design problem, but “a chain of failures” in its assembly, since it was reversed the connection of some cables at the time of construction of the launcher. Vega is a launch rocket developed jointly by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Government does not have insurance to cover a launch failure
The launch proceeded successfully until a deviation from the trajectory was identified, leading to the failure of the mission. According to Arianespace, the launch rocket and the two satellites it was carrying – the Spanish Ingenio and the French Taranis – have ended up falling in the planned uninhabited area. Although it does not specify the coordinates, the devices may have ended up somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second time in two years that a Vega rocket has experienced a failure. Another satellite, this time from the United Arab Emirates, was also lost in July last year due to a design flaw in one of the engines.
Arianespace warned that, as usual in government missions, there was no insurance against the failure of the launch, and advanced that it will work with the Spanish Government “to explore possible options to replace” the lost satellite. Arianespace and ESA have created a commission of inquiry to clarify the failure of the launch of the ill-fated Spanish satellite.
Duke mourns the loss
The Spanish Minister of Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque, regrets the loss of the mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) that carried the Spanish satellite Ingenio on board. However, it has valued the technologies that have been developed thanks to this satellite and that have trained Spanish companies in the sector and that can facilitate, in its opinion, that they opt for new contracts. Among those contracts, the minister has cited the one recently signed between the multinational Airbus Defense and Space and the ESA for the Land Surface Temperature Monitoring (LSTM) mission, with a contract worth around 380 million euros. Pedro Duque, official candidate to head the European Space Agency, has made these reflections through a message on his Twitter account.