October 13, 2020 – Arianespace today announced that new shared payload opportunities to low Earth orbit (LEO) have been opened with its Vega launcher’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS). For the next launch opportunity – Vega Flight VV18, targeted for the first quarter of 2021 – five companies already have signed contracts for payload slots, thereby fully booking the capacity on this mission. The initial SSMS launch with Vega – Flight VV16 – was performed last month, fully proving the viability of Arianespace’s latest capability for orbiting small satellites. This inaugural SSMS launch was supported by the European Space Agency and the European Union, deploying 50-plus satellites for 21 commercial and institutional customers. With the SSMS’ successful introduction, Arianespace is now able to offer a regular launch service for small satellites (mass under 400 kg). Customers will benefit from the highly modular payload carrying systems available on the current Vega and the enhanced Vega C version, along with the reignition capability of the launchers’ AVUM upper stage, as well as the new small spacecraft preparation and integration facilities in Europe that complement existing installations at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. Vega C maiden flight is schedule for mid-2021.