Europe launches space plane, brings it back to earth

Published February 12, 2015
A Vega rocket lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana, bearing the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) on a 100-minute test mission.—AFP
A Vega rocket lifts off from Kourou, French Guiana, bearing the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) on a 100-minute test mission.—AFP

PARIS: Europe’s prototype space plane splashed down in the Pacific on schedule on Wednesday after a 100-minute flight to test key re-entry technologies, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

“The mission has come to an end according to plan... it couldn’t have been better,” ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said in a live webcast.

Mission officials cheered and hugged each other at the success.

Dubbed the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV), the craft marks the first step in Europe’s strategy to join an elite club of nations able to launch spacecraft and return them safely to Earth.

It is an innovative wingless wedge shape, designed to cope with the stress of re-entry and glide to a pre-determined site.

The maiden mission saw the car-sized IXV launched from ESA’s base in French Guiana and head eastwards on a sub-orbital path before splashing down about 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) west of the Galapagos Island.

It was to be picked up by crane by a recovery ship.

“The mission is not yet over because now it’s going to be necessary to analyse all of the data that was collected throughout the flight,” said Dordain.

“The data analysis part of the work is to begin soon. It will be hard work, but it will move the frontiers of knowledge further back concerning aerodynamics, thermal issues, guidance and navigation.”

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

Opinion

Editorial

Updated 20 May, 2022

TTP peace talks

ANOTHER attempt to sue for peace with the outlawed TTP is being made, again facilitated by the Afghan Taliban that...
20 May, 2022

Beyond the law

THE senior judiciary should take care not to overreach in its zeal to ‘fix’ issues it ideally need not worry...
20 May, 2022

Political musical chairs

YET another political crisis is brewing in Balochistan, where old rivals Jam Kamal Khan Alyani and Sardar Yar...
Updated 19 May, 2022

To be or not to be

The same decision taken weeks or months from now will have far more devastating consequences.
19 May, 2022

Impact on Punjab

THE Supreme Court judgement interpreting the issue of disqualification of parliamentarians under Article 63A of the...
19 May, 2022

Forest fires

THOUGH spot and forest fires have become a perennial phenomenon especially in peak summer, the recent blazes —...