January 11, 2022 – Arianespace and the European Space Agency ESA have signed a contract to secure the launch of FLEX and ALTIUS on Vega C, from Europe’s Spaceport mid-2025. FLEX (Fluorescence Explorer) is the Earth Explorer N°8 (following the most recent EarthCare & Biomass Earth Explorers programs), to quantify photosynthetic activity and plant stress by mapping vegetation fluorescence. FLEX works in tandem with the SENTINEL 3 satellites (thus the same orbital plane requirements). This satellite is manufactured by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, with the instrument provided by Leonardo. ALTIUS (Atmospheric Limb Tracker for Investigation of the Upcoming Stratosphere) is an Earth Watch program to measure the atmospheric gases – ozone and others. This satellite is developed by the Belgium manufacturer QinetiQ Space S.A. Both missions are designed to fly to a low Earth orbit (sun synchronous), together on the same dedicated Vega C launch, or alternatively on two different Vega C vehicles. Taking advantage of the remaining performance available on those missions, additional small satellites may embark as auxiliaries. As those two satellites are aiming to monitor climate change and help scientific progress on Earth, these institutional missions place Europe at the spearhead of environmental action.