United Arab Emirates' (UAE's) “Falcon Eye-1” military spy satellite carried by a 98-foot European Vega rocket has crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after a “major anomaly” occurred during the rocket launch, just minutes after it took off on Thursday.
The operation was being overlooked by French provider Arianespace under a mission codenamed VV15 at the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana, South America, on July 10 when the mishap happened. Just minutes into the operation, the rocket took off, spiralled off its course and fell into the Atlantic, Space Flight Now reported.
“As you have seen after two minutes after lift-off… a major anomaly occurred resulting in the loss of the mission,” Luce Fabreguettes, the French operating company’s spokesperson, said.
Bad weather prompted the space centre and authorities to call off two earlier attempts to launch the satellite on July 6 and July 8.
Arianespace released a statement saying that, “approximately two minutes after the Vega launcher’s lift-off, shortly after ignition of the second stage (Zefiro 23), a launcher anomaly occurred – leading to the premature end of the mission. Data analyses are in progress to clarify the reasons for this failure.”
This was followed by a deviation on the trajectory of the launcher. Meaning, the rocket did not follow its supposed flight path upward and eventually degraded, falling off course.
At 6.14 minutes after the launch, the Mission Control Centre reported it lost telemetry link with the launcher, according to the Flight Director. The telemetry link is the automated communication link between the launcher and the mission control.
The Falcon Eye satellites are formally overseen and operated by Abu Dhabi’s Space Reconnaissance Centre (SRC) and are expected to “add enormous potential once in orbit at an altitude of 611km to provide the centre with hundreds of high-resolution images on a daily basis.” It was meant to support the needs of UAE Armed Forces, and provide the commerical market with high definition images.
The satellites are fitted with Thales optics capable of taking close-up shots and having an Earth resolution of down to 70 centimetres.