ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle is ready for its launch and reentry mission on 11 February. The launch is scheduled for 13:00 GMT (14:00 CET) atop a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Streaming starts at 12:45 GMT (13:45 CET)
This IXV mission will test cutting-edge system and technology aspects to provide Europe with an independent reentry capability, and a building block for reusable space transportation systems. It will validate designs for lifting-bodies, incorporating both the simplicity of capsules and the performance of winged vehicles, with high controllability and manoeuvrability for precision landing.
Launch and reentry
After separating from Vega 320 km above Earth, the five-metre-long, two-tonne vehicle will climb to a height of around 450 km and then descend for reentry, recording a vast amount of data from a large number of conventional and advanced sensors.
After manoeuvring to decelerate from hypersonic to supersonic speeds, IXV will deploy a multistage parachute to slow the descent further. Flotation balloons will keep it afloat after splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, where it will be recovered by a ship for detailed analysis.
The entire flight will last about 100 minutes.