Thursday, January 22, 2015

ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) has been fueled and “topped off”

The loading of IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle)’s hydrazine maneuvering propellant was performed inside the S5B hall at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Credit: Arianespace, ESA

ESA’s IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) has been “topped off” at the Spaceport in French Guiana as preparations continue for its launch with Vega’s year-opening mission on February 11.

Loading of IXV’s hydrazine maneuvering propellant was performed in the S5B hall of the Spaceport’s large S5 payload preparation facility.

Thales Alenia Space engineers working on the IXV.

Credit: Thales Alenia Space, ESA

IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) was built for the European Space Agency (ESA) by Thales Alenia Space, and is designed to flight test technologies and critical systems for Europe’s future automated reentry systems as they return from low Earth orbit.

Artist impression of ESA's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV).

Credit: ESA

The unmanned IXV is to be deployed into a suborbital trajectory by Vega at a 320-km. altitude.

After IXV coasts up to an altitude of 420 km., it will begin the reentry phase, recording data from a large number of conventional and advanced sensors.

The IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle is being prepared for launch at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Credit: ESA

The entry speed of 7.5 km. per second creates the same conditions as those for a vehicle returning from low Earth orbit, with IXV subsequently descending via parachutes for a safe splashdown in the Pacific Ocean approximately 100 minutes after liftoff.

Vega’s February 11 mission will mark the lightweight launcher’s second flight within the European Space Agency-managed VERTA (Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment) program to showcase this vehicle's flexibility.

The industrial prime contractor for Vega is ELV S.p.A., a company created by Avio and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) in December 2000.

Engineers forging ahead with the final tests on ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, IXV.

Credit: ESA

The IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) is being prepared for launch at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

IXV will be launched 320 km into space on top of a Vega  rocket, climbing up to 420 km before beginning a long glide back through the atmosphere.

In the process, IXV will gather data on reentry conditions to help guide the design of future spaceplanes. 

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