Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle
Artist's view of IXV reentry phase.
|Major contractors||Thales Alenia Space Italy|
|Mission type||Reentry technology demonstration|
|Launch date||11 February 2015|
|Launch site||Kourou ELV|
|Landing site||Pacific Ocean|
|Homepage||ESA Reentry technologies|
|Mass||1,800 kilograms (4,000 lb)|
|Altitude||450 kilometres (280 mi)|
The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) is an European Space Agency (ESA) experimental re-entry vehicle intended to validate European reusable launchers that could be evaluated in the frame of the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP). The IXV development would be carried out under the leadership of the NGL Prime SpA company. It would inherit the principles of previous studies such as CNES's Pre-X and ESA's AREV (Atmospheric Reentry Experimental Vehicle).
- Design 1
- Specifications 2
- Pre-launch testing 3
- See also 4
- References 5
- Further reading 6
- External links 7
IXV uses a lifting body arrangement with no wings of any sort, using two movable flaps for re-entry flight control. Re-entry is accomplished in a nose-high attitude like the Space Shuttle, with maneuvering accomplished by rolling out-of-plane and then lifting in that direction, like an aircraft. Landing is accomplished by parachutes ejected through the top of the vehicle. The airframe is based on a traditional hot-structure/cold-structure arrangement, and is supported on-orbit by a separate maneuvering and support module similar to the Resource Module intended for the Hermes. The avionics are controlled by a LEON2-FT microprocessor, and interconnected by a MIL-STD-1553B serial bus.
On December 18, 2009, ESA announced a contract with Thales Alenia Space valued at 39.4 million euros to cover 18 months of preliminary IXV work. Initially scheduled to make its first orbiting flight in 2013, the next plans were to launch the IXV on 18 November 2014 by a Vega rocket, the ESA’s new small launcher, descending to the Pacific Ocean for later recovery and analysis of the recorded mission data. The total estimated cost for the project is 150 million euros.
Data from ESA, Space.com, Gunter's Space PageGeneral characteristics
- Crew: None
- Capacity: None
- Length: 5 m (16.4 ft)
- Wingspan: 2.2 m (7.2 ft)
- Height: 1.5 m (4.9 ft)
- Empty weight: 480 kg (1,058 lb)
- Loaded weight: 1,900 kg with propulsion module (4,188 lb)
- Power: Batteries
- Maximum speed: 7700 m/s (27,720 km/h) 17,224 mph
Range: 7,500 km (4,660 mi)
- Max altitude: 450 km (280 mi) suborbital flight
The IXV's subsonic parachute system was tested at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona in late 2012. Water impact tests were conducted at Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche's INSEAN research tank near Rome.
On June 21, 2013 an IXV test vehicle was dropped from an altitude of 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) in the Salto di Quirra range off Sardinia. The test was to validate the water landing system including the subsonic parachute, floatation balloons, and beacon deployment. A small anomaly was encountered when inflating the balloons, but the other systems performed as expected. After the test the vehicle was taken for further analysis.
On June 23, 2014 the recovery ship Nos Aries conducted a training exercise with an IXV test article off the coast of Tuscany.
In June 2014 the IXV test vehicle arrived at the ESTEC Technical Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, to undergo a rigorous test campaign to confirm its flight readiness in anticipation of a flight on a Vega rocket in November.
- Hopper - an earlier ESA project on developing manned spaceplane, cancelled
- Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator (ARD) - ESA reentry testbed flown in 1998
- European eXPErimental Re-entry Testbed (EXPERT) - Research programme developing materials used in IXV
- Program for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator in Europe (PRIDE) - successor to the IXV
- Future Launchers Preparatory Programme - parent programme for IXV
- Italian Aerospace Research Centre
- European space plane set for February launch
- "European space plane set for February launch: firm". 2014-11-21. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
- "Worldwide launch schedule". 18 November 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
- "IXV e-book" (
Peter B. de Selding (2009-12-18). "ESA Spending Freeze Ends with Deals for Sentinel Satellites, Ariane 5 Upgrade". Space News. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
The contract is valued at 39.4 million euros to cover preliminary IXV work for 18 months, Fabrizi said.
- Gunter Dirk Krebs. "IXV". Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- "New milestone in IXV development".
- Enrique Rodríguez, Pablo Giménez, Ignacio de Miguel, Vicente Fernández (2012-09-25). "SCOE for IXV GNC". Simulation & EGSE Facilities for Space Programmes (SESP 2012). European Space Agency.
- "ESA and Thales Alenia Space establish agreement for development of Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV)".
Rob Coppinger (2011-06-13). "Europe Aims to Launch Robotic Mini-Shuttle By 2020". Space.com. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
In 2013, a Vega rocket will carry ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle into space.
"Europe's IXV atmospheric reentry demonstrator ready for final tests". space-travel.com. 2014-03-24. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
The launch, using Europe's new Vega light launcher, is scheduled for October 2014.
- "Vega to fly ESA experimental reentry vehicle".
- "ESA’s IXV reentry vehicle prepares for soft landing".
- "ESA's IXV Reentry Vehicle Prepares for Soft Landing". ESA. 9 Nov 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
- A. Iafrati. "Water impact and hydrodynamic loads".
- "Safe splashdown for IXV". ESA. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
- "Bringing back our Spaceplane".
- "Unboxing IXV".
- Giorgio Tumino, Yves Gerard (November 2006). "IXV: the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle". ESA bulletin (128): 62–67.
- Giorgio Tumino, Enrico Angelino, Frederic Leleu, Roberto Angelini, Patrice Plotard, Josef Sommer (2008-10-15). "The IXV project: the ESA re-entry system and technolologies demonstrator paving the way to European autonomous space transportation and exploration endeavours". 3rd FLPP Industrial Workshop. European Space Agency. IAC-08-D2.6.01.
- Paolo Baiocca (June 2007). "Pre-X experimental re-entry lifting body: Design of flight test experiments for critical aerothermal phenomena". RTO-EN-AVT-130 — Flight Experiments for Hypersonic Vehicle Development (
- Paolo Baiocca, Sylvain Guedron, Patrice Plotard, Jacques Moulin (October 2006). "Proceedings of the 57th IAF Congress". International Astronautical Congress (IAF). pp. 459–474.
- T. Gawehn, D. Neeb, F. Tarfeld, A. Gülhan, M. Dormieux, P. Binetti, T. Walloschek (2011). "Experimental investigation of the influence of the flow structure on the aerodynamic coefficients of the IXV vehicle". Shock Waves 21 (3): 253–266.
- Official IXV website
- IXV twitter profile
- ESA animation of an entire IXV flight
- IXV: learning to come back from Space, IXV Video News Release VNR
- ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, ESA Multimedia Gallery (2008 animation)
- ESA Euronews: "Splashdown — the re-entry test" (2013-08-22). Video on YouTube
- CNES reusable atmospheric re-entry vehicle: PRE-X