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The IXV reentry demonstrator makes a “landing” at Europe’s Spaceport

10/06/2014 | by Arianespace

The IXV reentry demonstrator makes a “landing” at Europe’s Spaceport
© Arianespace
Europe’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane has “touched down” in the Spaceport’s clean room facilities at French Guiana as processing begins for this reentry demonstrator’s flight on Arianespace’s lightweight Vega launcher.

The IXV, which arrived in French Guiana last month aboard a chartered cargo jetliner, is now installed on a trolley in the Spaceport’s S1B payload checkout facility.

Built by Thales Alenia Space, the IXV is an atmospheric reentry demonstrator designed on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) to flight test technologies and critical systems for future automated reentry systems as they return from low Earth orbit.

To be lofted on Vega’s fourth liftoff from French Guiana – designated Flight VV04 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – the mission profile calls for the IXV to reach an altitude of approximately 420 km. before starting the descent. Using its aerodynamic shape, along with thrusters and two tail flaps, the spaceplane will return through the atmosphere as if reentering from a low orbit for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

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