Launch and recovery

Aerial view of the trajectory looking South from the Kamchatka peninsula

Expert will be launched by the Makeyev State Rocket Centre, responsible for assembling the Russian parachute and integrating the capsule into a Volna rocket, which is a converted Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The rocket will be launched from a Russian submarine in the Pacific Ocean and Expert will land on the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East.

The Volna launch vehicle plays a crucial role in the overall mission and scientific objectives. Expert is a ballistic reentry capsule and therefore relies solely on the Volna to propel it on a suborbital trajectory up to 120 km altitude and a speed of 5 km/s (18000 km/h).

Volna then points the uncontrolled capsule in the correct orientation and releases it to enter Earth’s atmosphere and perform the scientific parts of the mission. The capsule’s shape, weight distribution and parachute are all designed to ensure that Expert follows a stable path back through the atmosphere to its landing site.

Makeyev will also coordinate the capsule search and recovery operations at the Kura military test range. The search and recovery is performed by helicopter and uses beacon signals from the capsule to pinpoint the location.

The recovery team will wait at the edge of the landing zone and then track the beacon signal directly to the touchdown point. Two beacons are used for redundancy. After finding the capsule, safety and inspection operations will be performed. The scientific and housekeeping data are then retrieved from the redundant and crash-resistant memory units.

For further information, contact:

Anthony Thirkettle
Expert Principal Mechanical Engineer
Anthony.Charles.Thirkettle@esa.int

Last update: 26 May 2010

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