The improved Vega-C launcher from Europe is ready for its first flight.

Europe’s new Vega-C launcher, debuting more powerful rocket motors and a larger payload volume, is set to lift off on its first flight .

Wednesday from Kourou, French Guiana, to cap more than seven years of development.

The Vega-C is an improved variant of the European Vega launcher, which has flown 20 times since its first test flight in February 2012.

"There is a lot of strain and a lot of work from all the teams," said Stefano Bianchi, chief of the flight programmes department .

The European Space Agency, which leads the Vega-C development in collaboration with prime contractor Avio, an Italian aerospace company.

The Vega's solid-fueled first and second stages are replaced by broader, heavier motor casings in the new rocket design. 

 The third stage motor remains the same, while the restartable liquid-fueled fourth stage uses the same engine but carries additional propellant.

The first 114-foot (34.8-meter) Vega-C rocket, which is about 16 feet (5 metres) taller than the previous Vega rocket, is scheduled to launch at 7:13 a.m. 

 EDT (1113 GMT; 8:13 a.m. French Guiana time) Wednesday, beginning a flight sequence that will last more than two hours until the final payload is deployed.

The Vega-C programme was planned by European officials about a decade ago, and ESA member states accepted its development in December 2014. 

 At the same time, European governments approved the bigger Ariane 6 rocket, a less expensive and more versatile alternative to the Ariane 5.