Home Uncategorized First space taxi successfully returns from test flight

First space taxi successfully returns from test flight

Can you imagine we’d ever be discussing taxis going into outer
space? Well, an experimental spacecraft has returned to Earth after a
successful mission. 

ESA’s Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV) has successfully
returned home after a 100 minute mission through the atmosphere. The
initial launch was postponed due to some launch problem, but finally it
took off on a Vega rocket from Kourou in South America. The total flight
lasted about 100 minutes. 
It traveled 256 miles into the Earth’s
atmosphere during the first test flight of this technology. The 16ft
space-plane separated from the Vega rocket at an altitude of 210 miles
to its maximum altitude. It flew around 20,000 miles before re-entering
Earth’s atmosphere at 16, 800mph.  
While on its short journey, it navigated through the atmosphere
using ‘flaps’ at its back, controlling its re-entry in a way not
possible for capsules that return from space. It splashed down as
planned in the Pacific Ocean. 
“This mission will teach us a lot about
the technologies we need to apply in new launch systems, in particular
when we think about reusable systems,” said Gaele Winters, ESA Director
of Launchers. “This was a short mission with big impact,” said Giorgio
Tumino, IXV project manager.  

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This could lead to new re-usable spacecrafts for use on future
missions to Mars. One of the main uses for the craft that looks like a
shrunken space shuttle without wings is to develop new ways of returning
cargo and astronauts safely to Earth. 
“Re-entry is something we need to
achieve if one day we want to have the ambition of having astronauts
flying back to Earth with European technologies,” said Mr. Tumino. This
will help scientists develop spacecraft that can land safely on the
surface of Mars in future missions and then return samples to Earth. The
IXV took over five years to develop at the cost of 150 million euros or
$225 million.  


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