Europe’s IXV spaceplane is “packed” for its February 11 suborbital flight with the Vega launcher
Preparations are moving forward for next month’s Vega flight, with its Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) passenger now integrated in the lightweight launcher’s payload fairing.
A perfect fit! Vega’s two-piece payload fairing is closed around the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) by personnel working in the Spaceport’s S5 facility.
During activity at the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation facility on Monday, IXV was installed on the cone-shaped adapter that serves as its interface with Vega – the smallest member of Arianespace’s launch vehicle family. Today, IXV was encapsulated inside Vega’s payload fairing, which will be followed by the completed unit’s transfer to the ELA-1 complex for integration atop its launch vehicle.
IXV is an atmospheric reentry demonstrator designed to flight test technologies and critical systems for Europe’s future automated reentry systems on their return from low Earth orbit. Built by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency (ESA), IXV will be deployed into a suborbital trajectory by Vega – from which this unmanned spaceplane will record data using a large number of conventional and advanced sensors before its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The upcoming mission – designated Flight VV04 in Arianespace’s numbering system – is scheduled for February 11, and will be the fourth use of Vega since its February 2012 introduction at the Spaceport.
As the first liftoff of an Arianespace launch vehicle family member in 2015, this will initiate another busy year of mission activity for the company with its light-lift Vega, medium-weight Soyuz and heavy-lift Ariane 5.
ELV S.p.A. – a company created by Avio and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) – is the industrial prime contractor for Vega.