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Raumfahrt - Start von Vega-VV04 mit ESA´s Intermediate Experimental Vehicle (IXV) - Update-2

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27.01.2015

IXV installed on its payload adapter
The IXV Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle installed on its payload adapter, on 26 January 2015 at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
IXV will be launched 320 km into space on top of a Vega rocket, VV04, climbing up to 420 km before beginning a long glide back through the atmosphere. In the process, IXV will gather data on reentry conditions to help guide the design of future spaceplanes.
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Quelle: ESA
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Update: 28.01.2015
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Vega Flight VV04
Payload 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.
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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.
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During activity in the Spaceport’s S5 payload preparation facility on Monday, IXV was installed on the cone-shaped payload 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 the 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 – from which this unmanned spaceplane will record data using a large number of conventional and advanced sensors before its safe splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The upcoming mission – designated Flight VV04 in Arianespace’s numbering system – is scheduled for liftoff on 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. 
Quelle: arianespace
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Update: 30.01.2015
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A fresh, sea-breeze view of the tracking antenna on Nos Aries, cruising toward the #IXV splashdown point #Pacific
Quelle: arianespace
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Update: 3.02.2015 
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Vega Flight VV04
The fourth Vega has completed its build-up at the Spaceport in French Guiana, preparing this lightweight member of Arianespace’s launcher family for final checkout ahead of its February 11 liftoff with the European Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane.
This assembly process was concluded during the weekend with integration of the unmanned IXV, enclosed in its protective payload fairing, atop the launcher. Installation took place inside the mobile gantry at the Spaceport’s ZLV launch site for Vega.
The upcoming Vega mission is designated Flight VV04 in Arianespace’s numbering system, and it will mark the launcher’s second flight within the European Space Agency-managed VERTA (Vega Research and Technology Accompaniment) program to showcase this vehicle's flexibility and versatility.
Its IXV passenger – built for the European Space Agency by Thales Alenia Space – will test reentry technologies that can be used in developing systems and advanced technologies for future transportation systems. IXV is to be deployed by Vega into a suborbital trajectory on a mission that will last approximately 100 minutes from liftoff to the spaceplane’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, where it is to be picked up by a recovery ship.
Vega is one of three launchers operated by Arianespace from French Guiana, along with the medium-lift Soyuz and heavyweight Ariane 5. Industrial prime contractor for Vega is ELV S.p.A. – a company created in December 2000 by Avio and the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
The February 11 mission will be the first liftoff of an Arianespace launcher family member in 2015, initiating another busy year of flight activity for the company. 
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Quelle: arianespace
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IXV: 100 MINUTES OF CRITICAL TEAMWORK
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During its brief but crucial mission, experts on three continents and the high seas will work in close cooperation for ESA’s IXV spaceplane mission, monitoring its free flight in space, spectacular reentry and safe splashdown in the Pacific.
On 11 February, ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) will be released into a suborbital path by a Vega rocket launched from Kourou in French Guiana.
The wingless spaceplane will soar to about 420 km , then return as though from a low-orbit mission, making a safe splashdown in the Pacific.
During its 100-minute hypersonic and supersonic flight, it will test crucial new European reentry technologies.
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The IXV mission includes launch on a Vega from Kourou, French Guiana, into a semi-equatorial path, followed by a landing in the Pacific Ocean to await recovery by ship and post-flight analysis. The main flight phases are: ascent, separation, ballistic, reentry, descent and splashdown.
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After IXV separates from Vega, around 18 minutes after launch, experts not only in French Guiana but also in Europe, Africa and on a recovery ship in the Pacific will be responsible for the mission, working together to monitor the craft throughout its data-gathering flight. 
“An extraordinary team of engineers from ESA’s space operations centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany, will work at the IXV Mission Control Centre, MCC, in Italy, the tracking stations in Africa and on board the recovery ship,” says project manager Giorgio Tumino, who will also sit ‘on console’ as Mission Director during the flight. 
“Their expertise and contributions are indispensable for ensuring reliable operation of our ground systems.”
Who does what
As for any ESA mission, the ‘ground segment’ comprises the mission control systems, data networks and tracking stations that support a spacecraft in flight.
The focus of activity on flight day will be the MCC, housed at the Advanced Logistics Technology Engineering Centre, in Turin, Italy, which will coordinate the entire ground segment, including the 10 m-diameter dishes in Libreville (Gabon) and Malindi (Kenya), and the tracking antenna on the recovery ship, Nos Aries.
After separating from its carrier at an altitude of about 340 km, IXV will begin sending signals to be picked up first by the Libreville station around 18 minutes into flight.
“This first slice of telemetry will give an update on IXV status and enable us to make refined calculations of the remaining trajectory and splashdown coordinates,” says Gerhard Billig, IXV operations director and responsible for the overall functioning of the ground segment.
Quelle: ESA
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Update: 4.02.2015
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Quelle: arianespace
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Update: 7.02.2015
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EUROPE TO LAUNCH PIONEERING SPACE PLANE

After an almost three-month delay due to a safety problem, European engineers are finishing preparations for liftoff of an innovative space glider on Feb. 11. A wedge-shaped unmanned IXV vehicle will ride into space on top of a light-weight Vega rocket from the European Space Agency’s launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, on the Atlantic coast of South America. After separation from Vega’s fourth stage at an altitude of 320 km, an experimental spacecraft will climb for another 100 km before starting its descent back to Earth. Zooming down with a speed of 7.5 km per second (the velocity of a typical orbiting spacecraft), the IXV will encounter a discernable atmosphere at an altitude of 120 km. At this point, the real test for the IXV space plane will begin, as it attempts to use its exotic aerodynamic shape to slow down from its enormous speed to a soft splashdown under a parachute around 100 minutes after liftoff. A recovery vessel will be on hand in the Pacific Ocean to fish out the vehicle for the post-flight analysis of the daring mission. The launch of IXV was originally planned for Nov. 18, however an unexpected safety issue stalled preparations around Oct. 24. As it turned out, in the unlikely event of veering off course during its first eastbound flight from Kourou, the Vega rocket could crash in populated areas on the coast of French Guiana. “Of course in a nominal path, we don’t go over any populated area, but when you do a safety analysis, you have to take into the account 360° of all potential off-nominal cases and you have to preserve the compliance with all the safety measures,” says Giorgio Tumino, the manager of the IXV project. By Nov. 21, the problem was resolved by re-programming Vega to make an initial ascent along its more routine northbound path, followed by a quick return to a prescribed trajectory across the Atlantic, along the Equator. Fortunately, the rocket had enough extra lifting capability to make this energy-hungry move, known as "dog-leg maneuver," with a two-ton IXV space plane.The IXV, or Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, belongs to a very rare class of flying machines known as “lifting bodies” that rely on fuselage rather than wings to achieve an aerodynamic lift. For spacecraft designers, the lifting body provides a compromise between a more maneuverable winged vehicle, which requires complex, heavy and failure-prone heat shield to protect its wings during a fiery reentry, and a capsule, which gives very little maneuverability. According to Tumino, the IXV glider has a capability to veer as far as 400 km either to the right or to the left from its straight-line descent trajectory. By most accounts, the IXV mission will be the world’s first attempt to return a pure lifting body from space. (In the past, the US and the USSR flew various experimental gliders with lifting body designs either at lower speed and altitude or augmented with some rudimentary wings.) European engineers bank on the low-cost IXV project to catch up with the most advanced space powers like the US and Russia in the sophisticated field of atmospheric reentry technology. However the IXV project is undertaken not for a benefit of the particular future spacecraft but rather aims to give the European Space Agency, ESA, a broad experience, which could have a variety of future applications. Tumino singled out such missions as the return of soil samples from other planetary bodies back to Earth, refueling and servicing satellites in orbit or even clearing space junk from busy orbital routes with the help of a reusable garbage truck.  The future European space plane could also be used for sensitive microgravity experiments delivering alloys and chemicals produced in weightlessness back to Earth or for carrying scientific sensors into the stratosphere within a range of altitudes too high for an aircraft but too low for satellites. Unfortunately, the European space budget does not currently provide for the development of the manned spacecraft, which would be the most obvious beneficiary of such a technology. Tumino also categorically denied any plans for military use of the project, due to strictly civilian nature of all ESA’s programs. 
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An artist's impression of the IXV space plane working at a satellite in orbit. Image credit: ESA
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With the recently approved funding, the IXV team hopes to build a follow-on returnable vehicle known as PRIDE, which stands for Programme for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator for Europe. Unlike its purely experimental predecessor, PRIDE will have at least one practical job to do in the Earth orbit, Tumino explains.
“With respect to what to do in orbit, we will start after the IXV (flight) brainstorming in Europe and, potentially (in cooperation) with international partners, to define the objective and the mission for the PRIDE spacecraft.
Tumino named US, Russia and Japan as potential partners in the project. He reminded that early hopes to involve Russian specialists into the IXV project had never materialized. “The mission ultimately chosen for the vehicle, will determine its shape,” Tumino says.
Contrary to popular depictions of the PRIDE vehicle as a winged mini-Shuttle, Tumino hinted that a wingless lifting body chosen for the IXV project is currently seen as a favorite. “In the end, you use the wings in last four minutes of your flight just to do a runway landing, but you can also do a runway landing without wings, so it is not necessarily true that we will go for a winged vehicle,” Tumino said.
“We have to land on the ground, preferably on the runway, but, if in the end, we can land on grass to avoid wings and rudders, we could use a parafoil. So, all the design choices for the PRIDE are open,” Tumino added. 
What is certain is that PRIDE will again rely on the light-weight and low-cost Vega booster, keeping its mass and size roughly within the parameters of the IXV space plane: 2 tons, 5 x 2.2 x 1.5 meters. All key specifications and the mission for the PRIDE space plane should be determined during initial stages of the project known as Phase A and B. They are to be completed before the end of next year, clearing the way to a full-scale development in 2017.
If everything goes as planned, (which it rarely does in such complex and innovative projects), the PRIDE could debut in 2020.
Quelle: SEN
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Update: 9.02.2015
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ARIANESPACE FLIGHT VV04 - IXV
THE LAUNCH READINESS REVIEW (RAL) took place in Kourou on Monday February 09, 2015 and authorized count-down operations for the Vega – IXV launch.
The fourth Vega launch from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana, will orbit the European Space Agency's IXV atmospheric reentry demonstrator.
The capability of returning from space is a cornerstone for enabling ambitious plans in reusable launcher stages, sample return from other planets and crew return from orbital infrastructures. The IXV mission will pioneer a series of system and technology aspects, performing a full atmospheric reentry mission with a lifting-body, incorporating the simplicity of a capsule and the performance of a winged vehicle with high controllability and manoeuvrability for precision landing. It will verify the most advanced thermal protection concepts and guidance navigation and control techniques, along with aerothermodynamic experiments, using more than 300 payload sensors.
The launch will be from the Vega Launch Site (SLV) in Kourou, French Guiana.
Liftoff is scheduled for Wednesday, February 11, 2015 between:
10:00 am and 11:43 am local time in French Guiana
08:00 am and 09:43 am in Washington, D.C.
01:00 pm and 02:43 pm, UTC
02:00 pm and 03:43 pm in Paris 
Quelle: arianespace

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