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The competition heats up: The European Space Agency today signed a contract to develop an upgraded version of its Vega rocket.
With respect to the VEGA configuration currently in operation, VEGA C aims to increase the load capacity of the orbital launcher up to 50%. Together with a further increase in operational flexibility, while maintaining its unrivalled orbital precision, it is expected to expand the capability to transport in the same flight a larger number of small satellites, in different orbital planes, or larger satellites. The new version of VEGA will be flight qualified in late 2018 for an entry into service as early as 2019. The group of countries which already participated in the development of VEGA, with Italy playing a major role with a 65% participation, welcomes now the entry of Germany.
I get the impression from this article that Vega is being used by ESA to spread the pork around, since to get Ariane 6 built they had to agree to not do so and give the work and control entirely to Airbus Safran. I thus wonder how competitive Vega will truly be.