ESA title
Science & Exploration

Facts and figures

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / EXPERT
Expert Mission Summary
Mission objectives Measurement of critical aerothermodynamic phenomena during the hypersonic flight of an atmospheric reentry vehicle, for comparison with computer analytical and wind/plasma tunnel test predictions.
Reference payloads
  • Flush Air Data System
  • Pyrometric Instrumentation for Nose Heating
  • Laminar to Turbulent Transition Characterisation (natural transition and roughness induced transition)
  • Shock Wave Boundary Layer Interaction on a body flap and in the area surrounding the body flap.
  • Shock Layer Chemistry measurements via emission spectroscopy.
  • Sharp Hot Structure experiment
  • Skin Friction measurement
  • Base Flow characterisation


Total mass
Payload mass
Thermal Protection System

Landing system

Data volume



436 kg
41 kg
Non-ablative materials (C-SiC on nose and flaps, PM1000 on the conical parts) – Hot structure concept
Parachute system (with supersonic stabiliser)
100 Mb (stored in redundant crash resistant memory units)
Passive (based on natural aerodynamic stability)


Entry velocity
Maximum Heat Flux
Maximum g-loads
Maximum Mach number


5 km/s
1.7 MW/m²
16 g
Mach 20

Ballistic trajectory

Launch vehicle Volna (decommissioned Russian ICBM)
Launch mass 436 kg into suborbital trajectory
Launch site Pacific Ocean (off the Kamchatka coast)
Launch windows April-October 2011
Flight duration 10 minutes
Landing site Kura Range (Kamchatka, Russia)
Gound Station Russian ground station in the Kura range
  • Spacecraft design and manufacturing funded within Interim Technology Phase for Reusable Transportation and Atmospheric Reentry
  • Payload funded through TRP, GSTP, and provided as national contributions of European research entities
  • Launch and recovery operations costs paid proportionally by the countries participating in the vehicle development

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