Exploring the Solar System

Exploring Mercury and Venus

What was the Vega program?

The Vega program was a pair of space probes launched six days apart by the Soviet Union in December 1984. They had two destinations: Venus and Halley’s Comet. Each Vega spacecraft was about thirty-six feet (eleven meters) long and consisted of a cylindrical mid-section with a landing capsule at one end, a communications antenna and solar panels protruding from its central portion, and an experiment platform at the other end. The platform held scientific instruments provided by many nations, including the Soviet Union, France, Germany, and the United States. Although this is a common practice today, at the time it was a pioneering example of international cooperation in space exploration.


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