Vega Stamps

VEGA Mission

International project VEGA was managed by Space Research Institute (IKI). Project combined the study of Venus and Halley's comet.

VEGA was exciting mission as comets, and, specifically, famous Halley's comet, always captured human imagination. Only previous visit to comet was made in 1985, when ISEE-3 spacecraft passed close to Giacobini-Zinner comet to measure plasma and magnetic environment of it.

VEGA-1 and VEGA-2 spacecraft were developed by Babakin Space Center and fabricated by Lavochkin Association in Khimki, Moscow region. International Scientific Council headed by IKI Director, academician R. Sagdeev, performed scientific coordination. Intercosmos Council of USSR Academy of Sciences was instrumental in managing international cooperation.

VEGA-1 and VEGA-2 have been the part of the international fleet to Halley's comet, that also included Giotto mission of European Space Agency (ESA) and Sakigake and Suisei by Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science (ISAS) of Japan. Inter-Agency Consultative Group (IACG) coordinated space projects. In particular, observations of comet by VEGA-1 and VEGA-2 spacecraft were used to target Giotto spacecraft to close encounter with cometary nucleous. In turn, ground-based astronomical observations of Halley's comet coordinated by International Halley Watch (IHW) allowed to obtain more accurate trajectory of comet and to direct VEGA spacecraft to desired encounter distance.

Countries (USSR, France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, DDR, DBR, USA, Austria, Italy, and as well as ESA, participated in the project. VEGA-1 and VEGA-2 have been launched from Baikonur cosmodrome on December 15th and 21st, 1984, respectively.

They flew by Venus on June 11th and 15th, 1985, and delivered to Venus two balloons with 4 scientific experiments and 2 landers with 9 experiments to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus. After performing Venus gravity assist two spacecraft were headed to rendezvous with Halley's comet. On March 6th, 1986, VEGA-1 passed at the distance 8,890 km from cometary nucleus, while VEGA-2 passed at 8,030 km on March 9, 1996. The imaging of nucleous and dust/gas coma of comet and 13 scientific experiments studied dust, plasma, gas, energetic particles, magnetic field and plasma waves of the comet. VEGA mission contributed significantly to the first effort of humanity to probe the matter bearing the sign of creation of the solar system.

Postal administrations of over 100 countries released stamps and souvenir sheets on occasion of comet Halley's return in 1986 and international scientific programs. Some of these issues show spacecraft that were sent to the comet, particularly, VEGA spacecraft.

Additional Links:

  • Vega 1
  • Vega 2
  • Planetary Missions
  • Images of Halley from the IHW CD-ROMs

    Oleg Vaisberg,
    Space Research Institute