Italian Space Agency (ASI) Press Release
The satellite, installed on the LARES System platform, is preparing to leave Italy to reach the European base in French Guiana where, on board the inaugural flight of the ESA Vega C launcher, it will be put into orbit.
MILAN, Italy (Italian Space Agency PR) — On 23 and 24 March 2022, the Pre-Shipment Review was held at the OHB Italia headquarters in Milan , during which the Italian Space Agency checked the status of the LARES2 System and authorized its shipment to the site launch, the European spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana.
The LARES2 System, developed by OHB Italia, under the guidance and coordination of ASI , will be the first passenger of the new European VEGA C launcher built by Avio, on its inaugural flight scheduled for May 2022.
The LARES System houses various satellites and equipment, including complex retention and release mechanisms that keep the various loads hosted during the launch phases blocked and release them once in orbit.
At the center of the system stands the ASI satellite LARES2 (LAser RElativity Satellite 2) conceived and designed by the scientific team of the Fermi Center and La Sapienza University of Rome and built by the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). It is a passive satellite with a spherical shape made of high density nickel alloy (424 mm in diameter and 395 kg in mass), on which 303 CCR retroreflectors have been installed making it a perfect reflective target for ILRS (International Laser Ranging Service).
Thanks to laser measurements, its orbit will be traced with great accuracy and will allow us to experimentally verify some relativistic aspects theoretically predicted by Einstein, but also to carry out measurements in the context of space geodesy.
The secondary payloads are 6 small satellites of the size of the Cubesats, selected by ESA and made by European research institutions , including 3 Italians : Astrobio and Greencube, made respectively by the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) and Sapienza University of Rome for ASI, and Alpha from ArcaDynamics.
Furthermore, during the launch, a series of sensors and a chamber, housed on the LARES System, will be used to monitor the conditions and stresses to which this first Vega C passenger is subjected , data that will become reference for the subsequent passengers of the ESA launcher, but made in Italy by Avio.
The LARES2 system follows the LARES in orbit , also developed for ASI by OHB Italia, launched exactly 10 years ago and still operational today. Over this time span it has provided a large amount of scientific data and allowed us to achieve results of great interest. The data that will be acquired through LARES2 and that will join those of its predecessors, will allow scientific investigations with further and unprecedented precision.
OHB Italia SpA is a company part of the European space group OHB SE (Orbitale Hoch Technologie Bremen) and is currently engaged in important missions for ASI and ESA which also represent the main customers, together with Research Institutes, university centers and all the main aerospace players, with special attention to the export market.