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Europe to build space re-entry vehicle
by Staff Writers
Paris (UPI) Jun 23, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The European Space Agency says it is going ahead with its re-entry vehicle demonstrator, known as the IXV, which it expects to launch in 2013.

The Intermediate Experimental Vehicle research craft will be launched to an altitude of 250 miles, where it will begin its re-entry through the atmosphere back to Earth, the BBC reported Thursday.

A payload of sensors will record data on how objects behave as they fall back through the atmosphere, data that should improve future spacecraft design, the ESA said.

"IXV is providing Europe with important technologies and a step to more ambitious programs in the future," Antonio Fabrizi, an ESA senior director, said.

The 2-ton vehicle will be equipped with flaps and thrusters to control its descent trajectory and a ceramic heatshield on its underside will prevent IXV from burning up.

The ESA has signed an agreement with Thales Alenia Space in Italy for construction of the demonstrator, officials said.

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