Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle – new video

Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (artist's impression)
9 October 2008

In 2013, Vega will carry ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle into space. The vehicle will then return to Earth to test a range of enabling systems and technologies for atmospheric re-entry. A new video with computer generated animations of the vehicle and its mission is now available.

Part of ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme has been devoted to optimising a long-term European roadmap for in-flight experimentation with atmospheric re-entry enabling systems and technologies. The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) project is the next core step of this effort.
The IXV project objectives are the design, development, manufacturing, and on-ground and in-flight verification of an autonomous European lifting and aerodynamically controlled re-entry system. Among the critical technologies of interest, special attention is being paid to:

  • advanced instrumentation for aerodynamics and aerothermodynamics
  • thermal protection and hot-structures solutions
  • guidance, navigation and flight control through a combination of jets and aerodynamic flaps

The project is particularly focussed on technology integration at the system level for in-flight verification.

As indicated by its name, the IXV is designed to be the ‘intermediate’ element of a technology-effective and cost-efficient European programme for in-flight verification of technologies necessary for future operational systems.
The IXV design activities are well under way, with the system preliminary design review planned for November 2008, which will allow the start of the full development (Phase-C/D) by the beginning of January 2009.
IXV will be launched in 2013 from Europe’s spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, using the new Vega small launch vehicle. After re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere and being slowed down by air drag, IXV will descend by parachute and land in the Pacific Ocean to await recovery and post-flight analysis.

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