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The ambition for a spacecraft to return autonomously from low orbit is a cornerstone for a wide range of space applications. IXV will achieve this goal. More manoeuvrable and able to make precise landings, it is the‘intermediate’ element of Europe’s path to future developments with limited risks.
Launched into a suborbital trajectory on ESA’s small Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the vehicle will return to Earth as though from a low-orbit mission. For the first time, it will test and qualify European critical reentry technologies in hypersonic flight, descend by parachute and land in the Pacific Ocean to await recovery and analysis.