Z9 is the third stage of the Vega launcher. Like the first two, it does not contain any operating load but only a large rocket engine. The cylindrical part houses the solid propellant that, once activated, drives hot gas through the discharge nozzle to create an upward thrust. Vega is one of the most important launchers made available by the European Space Agency to European Institutions and to the market for the launch of small satellites. It was developed in 1998 by ELV, a company managed by Italy's Avio and the Italian Space Agency. Vega can place up to 1500 kg of cargo in low orbit, at an altitude below 1000 km. 30 metres tall and with a maximum diameter of three metres, it is made largely of carbon fibre, which is both strong and light. It consists of three overlapping stages that host three engines referred to as P80, Z23, Z9. A fourth upper module is called AVUM, fitted with engines that can place the satellites precisely in their final orbit.