The European Space Agency (ESA) has concluded that the launch failure of the second stage of Arianespace’s Vega-C rocket on December 20, 2022 was caused by a faulty nozzle produced by a company in the Ukraine.
[T]he Commission confirmed that the cause was an unexpected thermo-mechanical over-erosion of the carbon-carbon (C-C) throat insert of the nozzle, procured by Avio in Ukraine. Additional investigations led to the conclusion that this was likely due to a flaw in the homogeneity of the material.
The anomaly also revealed that the criteria used to accept the C-C throat insert were not sufficient to demonstrate its flightworthiness. The Commission has therefore concluded that this specific C-C material can no longer be used for flight. No weakness in the design of Zefiro 40 has been revealed. Avio is implementing an immediate alternative solution for the Zefiro 40’s nozzle with another C-C material, manufactured by ArianeGroup, already in use for Vega’s Zefiro 23 and Zefiro 9 nozzles.
The press release goes to great length to reassure everyone that these Ukrainian nozzles are still flightworthy, that the fix is merely changing the material used in the nozzle’s throat insert.
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