ESA spaceplane

Europe’s Vega rocket is ready to loft ESA’s unmanned spaceplane, to test reentry technologies for future vehicles.

Images © ESA

The launch campaign has resumed, aiming for a liftoff on 11 February from Kourou, French Guiana to release ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, IXV, into a suborbital trajectory.

This mission will provide vital flight data for Europe to forge ahead in developing systems and advanced technologies for transportation systems of the future.

On 23 October, the decision to postpone the launch was taken by the launch authorities as a result of safety concerns that required additional analysis. Finding an alternative trajectory solved the issue.

ESA spaceplane

Jose-Maria Gallego Sanz, ESA’s IXV launch campaign manager, said:

“Launch preparations have resumed. Batteries that were removed from IXV are being taken from cold storage, charged and reinstalled. No additional tests are needed – IXV is ready to fly.”

The mission will last 100 minutes from liftoff to splashdown. Weighing around two tonnes and the size of a car, IXV is a snug fit inside Vega’s protective fairing. The two-piece shell will open to release the spaceplane at an altitude of 320 km.

ESA spaceplane

IXV ready for launch

source ESA