ESA Approves 10.3 Billion Euro Budget; ISS Extended, ExoMars Funded

ESA logoMinisters from 22 ESA member countries approved a multi-year spending plan of €10.3 billion ($11 billion) for the European space agency, a reduction from the  €11 billion ($11.74 billion) that Director General Jan Dietrich Woerner had sought.

The budget includes an extension of the International Space Station to 2020 to 2024. ESA was the last of the international partners to approve the extension after the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.

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A Video Look Back at Europe’s Year in Space

Video Caption: 2015 began and ended with two pioneering missions: IXV, the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, proving Europe’s ability to return autonomously from space, and LISA Pathfinder, which set out in December to test the technologies needed to detect gravitational waves and, with them, a new way to look at our Universe! But a lot has happened in between… More European astronauts have visited space and more satellites are beefing up Galileo and ESA’s Earth Observation programme!

ESA Completes Successful IXV Mission

Vega lifts off with IXV test vehicle. (Credit: ESA)
Vega lifts off with IXV test vehicle. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — An experimental vehicle to develop an autonomous European reentry capability for future reusable space transportation has completed its mission. ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle flew a flawless reentry and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean just west of the Galapagos islands.

The IXV spaceplane lifted off at 13:40 GMT (14:40 CET, 10:40 local time) on 11 February from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana atop a Vega rocket. It separated from Vega at an altitude of 340 km and continued up to 412 km. Reentering from this suborbital path, it recorded a vast amount of data from more than 300 advanced and conventional sensors.

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Watch ESA’s IXV Launch Live on Wednesday

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ESA Mission Update

ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle is ready for its launch and reentry mission on 11 February. The launch is scheduled for 13:00 GMT (14:00 CET) atop a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Streaming starts at 12:45 GMT (13:45 CET)

This IXV mission will test cutting-edge system and technology aspects to provide Europe with an independent reentry capability, and a building block for reusable space transportation systems. It will validate designs for lifting-bodies, incorporating both the simplicity of capsules and the performance of winged vehicles, with high controllability and manoeuvrability for precision landing.

IXV Test Set for Feb. 11

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IXV spacecraft (ESA PR)

PARIS (ESA PR) — During its brief but crucial mission, experts on three continents and the high seas will work in close cooperation for ESA’s IXV spaceplane mission, monitoring its free flight in space, spectacular reentry and safe splashdown in the Pacific.

On 11 February, ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) will be released into a suborbital path by a Vega rocket launched from Kourou in French Guiana.

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ESA Sets New Date for Experimental Re-entry Vehicle Launch

Engineers conduct final tests on ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle  (IXV). (Credit: ESA)
Engineers conduct final tests on ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — On its first launch of the year, Europe’s Vega rocket will loft ESA’s unmanned spaceplane to test reentry technologies for future vehicles.

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.

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Vega Launch of ESA’s Experimental Space Plane Delayed

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PARIS (ESA PR) — The Vega launch of ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, due on 18 November from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, has been postponed to allow for additional analyses of the Vega flight trajectory.

For this mission, instead of heading north into a polar orbit, as on previous flights, Vega will head eastwards to release the spaceplane into a suborbital path reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean to test new technologies for future autonomous controlled reentry for return missions.

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ESA Prepares to Launch Experimental Space Plane

Engineers conduct final tests on ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle  (IXV). (Credit: ESA)
Engineers conduct final tests on ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — All eyes are on ESA’s spaceplane to showcase reentry technologies after its unconventional launch on a Vega rocket this November.

Instead of heading north into a polar orbit – as on previous flights – Vega will head eastwards to release the spaceplane into a suborbital path reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

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A Video Report on Test of ESA’s IXV System

Description: Europe’s newest spacecraft, the IXV, or Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, has moved a step closer to its planned launch in 2014.

The craft completed a pre-launch test off the coast of Sardinia, which involved it being dropped into the Mediterranean from a height of 3,000 metres.

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ESA Conducts Successful Test of Re-entry Vehicle

On the 19 June 2013 the IXV Descent and Landing System Test was successfully performed off the east coast of Sardinia, Italy, at the Poligono Interforze Salto di Quirra. (Credit: ESA/CIRA)
On the 19 June 2013 the IXV Descent and Landing System Test was successfully performed off the east coast of Sardinia, Italy, at the Poligono Interforze Salto di Quirra. (Credit: ESA/CIRA)

SARDINIA, Italy, 21 June 2013 (ESA PR) — ESA’s experimental reentry vehicle passed its milestone descent and landing test on Wednesday at the Poligono Interforze Salto di Quirra off the east coast of Sardinia in Italy.

The full-scale Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) prototype was released from an altitude of 3000 m by a helicopter, falling to gain speed to mimic a space mission before parachute deployment. The parachute slowed IXV for a safe splashdown in the sea at a speed below 7 m/s.

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ESA’s IXV Re-entry Vehicle Undergoes Testing

IXV parachute test. (Credit: Pioneer Aerospace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Europe’s IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle is completing a series of descent and landing tests, including a full-scale splashdown planned for early next year, allowing the mission to move ahead towards launch in 2014.

The ambition for a spacecraft to return autonomously from low orbit is a cornerstone for a wide range of space applications, including space transportation, exploration and robotic servicing of space infrastructure.

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ESA Seeks New Ride for Re-entry Testbed Vehicle

Aviation Week reports that ESA is looking for an alternative launcher for its Experimental Re-Entry Testbed (Expert) after a plan to launch the vehicle from a Russian submarine fell through.

Expert is a ballistic flight re-entry demonstrator that, along with a follow-on Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV), is designed to pave the way for a European reusable space plane. The 450-kg (1,000-lb.) Expert was originally due to be launched in late 2010 on a modified Volna ICBM from a Russian submarine in the eastern Pacific.

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Curtiss-Wright Wins Deal for ESA IXV Re-entry System

ESA's IXV re-entry test vehicle.

CHARLOTTE, NC (CWC PR) – Curtiss-Wright Controls, Inc. today announced that it has received a contract from Alenia Aermacchi S.p.A. to supply rugged data acquisition subsystems for use in the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). Under the contract, Curtiss-Wright Controls will supply Alenia Aermacchi with its Acra KAM-500, Acra PCM recorder and Acra network switch for the re-entry vehicle data handling and telemetry subsystem. The Curtiss-Wright Controls Avionics & Electronics (CWC-AE) division’s data acquisition, networking and recording products will enable the IXV mission to acquire data to test new re-entry vehicle technologies.

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ASI, JAXA Discuss Cooperation on Re-entry Vehicle Tech

IXV rendering (courtesy of CNES)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

With both Europe and Japan taking steps toward independent human access to space, officials from JAXA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) are meeting today to discuss collaboration on an orbital vehicle that would be able to re-enter the atmosphere and be recovered safely.

The goal of the workshop is to gather innovative ideas for a preliminary study of a future atmospheric re-entry demonstrator to be launched aboard Europe’s Vega rocket, according to an ASI press release.

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MT Aerospace to Manufacture Elements of ESA’s IXV Reentry Vehicle


OHB PR — MT Aerospace received an important follow-up order to manufacture ceramic compound body flaps and heat shield components for the European IXV reentry vehicle: after completion of the development phase and successful Critical Design Review, Thales Alenia Space Italia, as prime contractor, and the Augsburg, Germany based company signed a contract for the qualification and manufacture of the IXV vehicle’s flight hardware. IXV will be launched into space in 2014 to test reentry technologies for future space applications.

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