Tue, Dec 20, 2011
Launch Of IXV Planned In 2014 From French Guiana
The launch of ESA's IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle on
Europe's new Vega rocket is now in detailed planning, a major step
towards the craft's flight in 2014. After launch into a suborbital
trajectory from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana, IXV will
return to Earth as if from a low-orbit mission, to test and qualify
new critical technologies for future reentry vehicles.
ESA IXV Artist's Rendering
The flight profile calls for the IXV to attain an altitude of
around 279 miles, allowing it to reach a velocity of 4.6
miles/second on entering the atmosphere. It will collect a large
amount of data during its hypersonic and supersonic flight, while
it is being controlled by thrusters and aerodynamic flaps. IXV will
then descend by parachute and land in the Pacific Ocean to await
recovery and analysis.
ESA and the Arianespace launch provider signed a contract on 14
December to study the launch on Vega, as part of the VERTA - Vega
Research and Technology Accompaniment - program.
The rocket's qualification flight planned for liftoff at the end
of January will pave the way for the next five VERTA missions that
will demonstrate the system's flexibility. At a planned rate of two
launches per year, the program will allow the smooth introduction
of Vega for commercial exploitation. Following development of
critical technologies and completion of the design, the vehicle's
manufacturing, assembly, integration and qualification is now under
way for a flight window between January and September 2014.
Procurement of the ground network has begun, including the
mission control center, ground station telemetry kits,
transportable antennas and communication network.
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