ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and the IXV in front of the ESA Pavilion, at Paris Air and Space Show, on June 16, 2015. Pesquet has been assigned to a long-duration mission on the International Space Station. He will be leaving our planet for six months November 2016 as a flight engineer for Expeditions 50 and 51, returning in May 2017. Credit: ESA–CB PROD, 2015

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and the IXV in front of the ESA Pavilion, at Paris Air and Space Show, on June 16, 2015. Pesquet has been assigned to a long-duration mission on the International Space Station. He will be leaving our planet for six months November 2016 as a flight engineer for Expeditions 50 and 51, returning in May 2017.
Credit: ESA–CB PROD, 2015

Earlier this week, at the Paris Air Show, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported first details on the flight of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, IXV.

That research craft was launched on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on February 11, 2015.

Released into a suborbital trajectory, it flew autonomously, reentering and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean just west of the Galapagos Islands after 100 minutes of flight.

Variety of missions

According to ESA, the IXV incorporates both the simplicity of capsules and the performance of winged vehicles, with high controllability and maneuverability for precision landing.

Such a capability is a cornerstone for reusable launcher stages, sample return from other planets and crew return from space, as well as future Earth observation, microgravity research, satellite servicing and disposal missions.

Furthermore, the results from the test will be fed into the ESA’s “Program for Reusable In-Orbit Demonstrator for Europe,” long-speak for “Pride” – a reusable spaceplane.

Shown pre-launch, the IXV was hurled into space on top of a Vega rocket, VV04, climbing up to 260 miles (420 kilometers) before beginning a long glide back through the atmosphere. In the process, IXV gathered data on reentry conditions to help guide the design of future spaceplanes. Credit ESA–M. Pedoussaut, 2015

Shown pre-launch, the IXV was hurled into space on top of a Vega rocket, VV04, climbing up to 260 miles (420 kilometers) before beginning a long glide back through the atmosphere. In the process, IXV gathered data on reentry conditions to help guide the design of future spaceplanes.
Credit ESA–M. Pedoussaut, 2015

 

 

First results

The prime contractor for IXV is Thales Alenia Space Italia, supported by about 40 other European companies. The mission was controlled from the Advanced Logistics Technology Engineering Centre (ALTEC) in Turin, Italy.

In the five months since the test mission, the initial analysis has been completed and the team unveiled the first results in a special press briefing.

 

A replay of press conference at the Paris Air Show on the first results from ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). It can be viewed here at:

http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2015/06/Replay_of_IXV_conference

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