Cannes, October 6, 2014 – The European Space Agency's IXV (Intermediate Experimental Vehicle) atmospheric reentry demonstrator, developed by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, has kicked off its launch campaign at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. The launch is scheduled in November; the mission itself will last 1 hour and 40 minutes, culminating in a parachute-assisted landing in the Pacific Ocean, where it will be picked up immediately by a specially outfitted ship.
The recovery ship, supplied by the shipowner Neri, has left yesterday its port in Genoa, Italy and will reach Panama in 25 days. There, it will pick up various project staff, including the propulsion teams from Thales Alenia Space, who will passivate (neutralize) the IXV and recover the data recorders. They will take about ten days to cross the Panama Canal, and will then set sail to reach the IXV's splashdown point in the Pacific. The ship is expected to be back in Genoa with its precious cargo by the end of December 2014.
The development of European space transport and reentry systems will be able to capitalize on this project, because the IXV will provide in-flight verification, under real conditions, of all basic reentry technologies, including aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics, thermal protection systems and the navigation and flight control system. But over and above the technology aspects, this program is also an extraordinary human story, uniting teams from Thales Alenia Space's Cannes and Turin plants in an exciting adventure in space and on the high seas.
Date: Oct 6, 2014