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. Media representatives are invited to follow the launch online or attend events in Italy, Germany or Spain.
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.
ESA has developed the capabilities to deliver spacecraft into orbit, dock automatically with cooperative or non-cooperative targets, and even land on celestial objects far away in our Solar System. Mastering autonomous return from orbit and soft landing will open a new chapter for ESA. 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.
The initial results from the flight are expected to be released around six weeks later.
The results will feed the Programme for Reusable In-Orbit Demonstrator for Europe, or Pride, which is being studied under funding decided at ESA's last two Ministerial Councils. The reusable Pride spaceplane would be launched on Europe's Vega light rocket, orbit and land automatically on a runway.
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.
A continental effort
The prime contractor is Thales Alenia Space Italia, supported by about 40 other European companies. The mission will be controlled from the Advanced Logistics Technology Engineering Centre (ALTEC) in Turin, Italy.
Learn more about IXV at: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Launchers/IXV
Covering the launch
Media representatives are invited to follow the launch online on the ESA web or attend the main launch event at ALTEC's facility in Turin, Italy or at ESA's centres in Darmstadt, Germany or Madrid, Spain:
- In Italy, the main media event will take place at ALTEC. Doors will open at 12:30 CET.
For accreditation, contact:
Tiziana Ebano, Head of Communication
Tel: +39 0641512574
- In Germany, ESA's Space Operations Centre (ESOC) opens its doors at 13:00
For accreditation, contact:
Bernhard von Weyhe, Corporate Communication Office
Tel.: +49 (0)6151-902516
- In Spain, ESA's Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) opens its doors early at 11:00 for interview possibilities with industry and experts. The launch event starts at 13:30.
For accreditation, contact:
Beatriz Arias, Corporate Communication Office
Tel: +34 91 81 31 359
ESA TV will provide video coverage through a partnership with Arianespace. The transmission will cover all the major moments from launch in Kourou, the action in the IXV mission control room in Turin, and the reentry over the Pacific.
Several stories have also been prepared on the mission and its technology. More information at: http://www.esa.int/esatv/Television
ESA's Portal will cover the launch live on www.esa.int, providing the videostream and updates of the launch.
The latest high-resolution images can be found at:
ESA's Multimedia Gallery:
ESA's Photo Library for Professionals: http://www.esa-photolibrary.com
Media image queries can be directed to email@example.com
Follow IXV via Twitter: @esa_ixv and the hashtag #IXV
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe's gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, are likely soon to become new ESA Member States.
ESA has Cooperation Agreements with six other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar
System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int
For further information, please contact:
For further information:
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 5369 7299