Vega-C and Angara 1.2

South Korea Cancels Launch Contract with Russia, Chooses Europe's Vega-C Rocket for Arirang-6 Satellite

"Goodbye Russia, Hello Europe"

  • More details coming soon...
Jay Keegan

Jay Keegan

Sat Feb 04 2023Written by Jay Keegan

The republic of Korea has opted to cancel the contract with Russia to launch the Korean Arirang 6 (KOMPSAT-6) satellite among ongoing global tensions with the country.

The Korean Multipurpose Satellite 6, known as the Arirang 6, was originally planned to launch on a Russian Angara 1.2 rocket last year from the Plesetek Cosmodrome, but due to sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries as a result of the tragic war in Ukraine, the plan was scrapped and South Korea looked for a new launcher.

Last month, South Korea entered a contract with Arianespace and the European Space Agency to launch the satellite aboard a European Vega-C rocket in Q4 of 2023 from European Launch Area 1, Kourou, French Guiana.

In addition to moving Arirang 6 off the Russian launch schedule, the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT says they are working to find a new launch vehicle and schedule for a next generation midsized obsevation satellite, originally expected to launch aboard Soyuz.

What Is Vega-C, And Why Is It A Good Fit For The Job?

The Vega-C is an updated version of Arianespace’s Vega rocket. Vega-C has 3 solid fuel stages, with a liquid fuelled 4th stage. This new version of the Vega rocket has been optimised for better launch performance and greater launch flexibility.

Vega-C development started in 2014, and ESA conducted its maiden flight in July 2022. The goal of the Vega-C was to meet the changing demand for less pensive launch provider options - thus making it a perfect fit for this scenario.

Unfortunately, in December 2022, Vega-C experienced an anomaly with its solid second stage which resulted in the loss of 2 Airbus satellites. Further information regarding the failure is expected later this month, however, it will likely not affect the launch of Arirang 6.