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  ESA's Space Rider uncrewed spaceplane

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Author Topic:   ESA's Space Rider uncrewed spaceplane
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38374
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-01-2017 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
European Space Agency (ESA) release
Space Rider

Space Rider aims to provide Europe with an affordable, independent, reusable end-to-end integrated space transportation system for routine access and return from low orbit. It will be used to transport payloads for an array of applications, orbit altitudes and inclinations.

Launched atop Vega-C, Space Rider follows ESA's Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) which on 11 February 2015 performed a flawless suborbital flight with atmospheric reentry and sea landing.

Europe has solid know-how in getting to space and operating in space – but not returning from space. IXV was designed to help fill that gap in knowledge by demonstrating critical technologies in hypersonic flight conditions, fully representative of an atmospheric reentry from low orbit.

Several additional technology development and flight demonstrations have since taken place in Europe, adding valuable information.

Space Rider will have the potential to allow:

  • experiments in microgravity;

  • in-orbit validation of technologies required for several application missions;

  • educational missions;

  • enhancement of European industry competitiveness in paving the way to a commercial service.
The operational missions for Space Rider include a wide spectrum of orbital altitudes and inclinations in low orbit, compatible with the performance of the Vega-C launch system and its future evolutions.

The spacecraft will be launched from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, stay in orbit as required by its payloads, and then perform a ground landing. Afterwards, it will be refurbished and equipped with new payloads for the next flight.

The operational mission is based on the following elements:

  • A small reusable orbital system designed to minimize refurbishment and turn-around life-cycle cost. It builds on the system and technological know-how acquired through IXV and the European launchers technology and flight experience, implementing design innovations such as a multipurpose cargo bay, and maximizing the use of off-the-shelf components.

  • A small launch system to minimize launch service cost. The reference launch system is the Vega-C. The AVUM+ fourth stage of Vega-C constitutes the service module of the reusable orbital system, providing maneuverability for the payloads as well as the reentry braking.
A ground segment to support the in-orbit operations as well as the reentry and landing, and the early processing of the payloads after landing.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38374
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-01-2017 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ESA on Friday (Dec. 1) awarded $36.7 million split between Avio and Thales Alenia Space Italy for Space Rider, reports SpaceNews.
ESA tasked Thales Alenia Space with building Space Rider's reentry module based on the IXV.

ELV, a 70-30 joint venture Avio has with the Italian Space Agency, will create a service module derived from Vega C's upgraded AVUM. That module includes solar panels to provide in-space power for Space Rider while in orbit, and to subsequently deorbit at the end of the mission.

Hinting at potential future applications of Space Rider, Thales Alenia Space Italy CEO Donato Amoroso said the vehicle paves "the way to larger and more challenging applications, including reusable stages, point-to-point flights, spaceplanes and even space tourism," in a Nov. 30 statement.

Space Rider's first flight is planned for 2020, following which ESA hopes to set the vehicle on a path to privatization by 2025.

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