The LYRA project responds to the need for broadening the flexibility and capability of the European family of small- to medium-size launchers. The objective is to make the most of the opportunity of a market which indicates a growth trend and diversification in launch service demand for LEO/MEO orbits.
In addition, the project has been directed to rule out the need for acquiring launches outside of Europe, in particular, for intermediate class satellites. Future ASI missions could be included among these.
The primary objective of the LYRA project is to increase VEGA's performance by about 30%, without significant impacts on the price of the launch service
In 2005 Phase A of the project was concluded which outlined the reference configuration of the launcher and the main subsystems In April 2007 the contract for Phase B for the "Launch system and liquid propulsion" contract was signed .The programme activities are to take place within a four-year time frame according to the contract's provisions, during which system level activities will take place, including an innovative approach at the GNC and the development of a new flight prototype software and activities in propulsion with regard to the definition of the launcher's third stage (to substitute the current 3° stage ZEFIRO 9 solid, and 4° stage AVUM stockable liquid) made up of the new oxygen-methane MIRA thrusters.
Propulsion activity which makes up 75% of the contract will therefore concentrate on the definition, realization and full-scale test firing of a technological demonstrator realized with the Russian industry, KBKhA.