Spacecraft prepare for launch at Severomorsk
On 24 May 2005 two spacecraft, one a pneumatic brake Demonstrator-2R and the other with a solar sail, were sent to Severomorsk to begin launch preparations. The Demonstrator-2R is being developed under an ESA contract to demonstrate the technology for inflatable re-entry vehicles.
IRDT (Inflatable Re-Entry and Descent Technology) is a new technology to return payloads from orbit without a heavy heat shield and parachute system. An inflatable cone will provide protection during re-entry and a second inflatable extension of the cone will reduce the speed to ensure a safe landing. Demonstrator-2R is the third flight vehicle of the IRDT series as the first two attempts to launch an IRDT spacecraft were unsuccessful.
The launch, originally planned for December 2004 but postponed at the request of engineers working on the project, who wanted to carry out further tests to increase the spacecraft’s reliability, will now take place in July.
Demonstrator- 2R was manufactured by the European space company EADS ST. Participating in the project, together with ESA, are the Russian Federal Space Agency, NPO-Lavochkin, the Makeev State Rocket Centre, EADS ST, the International Scientific and Technical Centre, the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian navy.
Solar sail spacecraft
The Solar Sail project, sponsored by an American organization Cosmos Studios, is the first trial of a new spacecraft. It is also the first trial of using private financing for a space project.
Participating in the project are the Russian Federal Space Agency, NPO-Lavochkin, the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Makeev State Rocket Centre, the Planetary Society of the USA, Cosmos Studios and the Russian navy.
Demonstrator-2R is scheduled for launch on 5-8 July and the solar sail spacecraft on 21 June 2005. Both will be launched by a conversional Volna launch vehicle from a Russian navy submarine in the Barents Sea.