The first booster class "Vega" was launched from Kourou in French Guiana. Live webcast launch was conducted on the website of the European Space Agency (ESA).
This flight is the agency called "qualification". On board the carrier are nine small satellites — two full Italian LARES and ALMASat-1 and seven microsatellites from universities in Italy, Romania, Hungary, Poland, France and Spain.
Ukrainian engines 4th stage worked fine.
The greatest interest among the devices on board is LARES — 400-kilogram satellite, equipped with 92 mirrors. Researchers at the Earth will be sent to the satellite and laser pulses to monitor the reflected light. The data obtained will be used for the next test of the theory of relativity.
For example, the device will record with the precision measurement of the so-called Lense-Thirring effect — an amendment to the precession of a gyroscope in the vicinity of a massive rotating body (caused by the so-called fad innertsialnoy coordinate system).
Initially, the launch of "Vega" was to be held in 2008, but was repeatedly postponed. In the near future planned 3 more test launches rocket. If they are successful, the European Space Agency is planning to take the vehicle "adopted" and launch these missiles in 2-3 years.
Currently, the European Space Agency in the class of lung rockets have only "Ariane-1", which, however, can not compete with Russia's "Roar" and promising "Union of 2,1" (the first flight of the new "Union" is scheduled for 2012). "Vega" was created specifically as a competitor to domestic boosters light class.