Image Credit & Copyright: European Space Agency (ESA).
LAUNCH ALERT: Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 13:00 UTC (08:00 EST) an Arianespace Vega rocket (Flight Designation VV04) will be launching the European Space Agency’s (ESA) IXV Space Plane. Launch will take place from the Site de Lancement Vega (SLV) or Zone de Lancement Vega (ZLV) which is the Former Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-1 (ELA-1) at Spaceport Kourou, French Guiana.
The European Space Agency’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) project mission is to test developed technology for Europe’s future autonomous controlled reentry systems. The flight will be suborbital in design. The IXV will separate from the Vega rocket at an altitude of 340 km (211 mi.) where it will continue to climb to 412 km (256 mi.). It will reach a speed of 7.5 km/s (4.6 mi/s) when it reenters the atmosphere. This should easily represent conditions and speeds found in low Earth orbit reentry sequences. Upon reentry thrusters and body flaps will control the IXV’s attitude until parachutes are released where it will then cruise to a safe splashdown in the Pacific. The entire mission is scheduled to last approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Should this mission succeed, the next step, known as the “PRIDE” mission is already being proposed where a larger, more technical vehicle will be launched by Vega and go into orbit before reentry and a wheeled runway landing. All phases from hypersonic, supersonic, transonic and subsonic will be experienced.
VEGA ROCKET: is a three stage, all solid fuel light lift vehicle with an optional liquid fueled third stage for re-firings. In total, the vehicle stands 30 m (98.4 ft.) tall and is 3 m (9.8 ft.) in diameter at the first stage.
PAYLOAD FAIRING: is a 2-shell protective enclosure 7.8 m (25.5 ft.) in length and 2.6 m (8.5 ft.) in diameter. The PLF protects the spacecraft from aerodynamic and thermal atmospheric effects experienced during flight. Once a safe altitude is reached the two shells are pyrotechnically jettisoned.
THIRD STAGE: is 3.5 m (11.4 ft.) in length, 1.9 m (6.2 ft.) in diameter and is similar to the second stage by design. It’s powered by a single solid fueled (HTPB 1912 solid fuel) ZEFIRO 9 (Z9) Solid Rocket Motor (SRM) engine that has a burn time of 109 seconds.
SECOND STAGE: 8.4 m (27.5 ft.) in length and 1.9 m (6.2 ft.) in diameter solid fueled stage (HTPB 1912 solid fuel) powered by a single ZEFIRO 3 Solid Rocket Motor (SRM) and has a burn time of 72 seconds.
FIRST STAGE (Core Stage): 11.5 m (37.7 ft.) in length and 3m (9.8 ft.) in diameter solid fueled stage (HTPB 1912 solid fuel) powered by a single P80FW (SRM) engine that has a burn time of 107 seconds.
LIVE STREAMING FEEDS: (They also have a great APP for launches)
Live Streaming Launch: http://www.arianespace.tv/
Arianespace Livestream: http://www.livestream.com/arianespace
European Space Agency (ESA) Space in Videos: http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/esalive
European Space Agency (ESA) Livestream: http://www.livestream.com/eurospaceagency
CNES website for launch: http://www.cnes.fr/web/CNES-en/10082-follow-ariane-launch-live.php
MISSION DATA LINKS:
ESA IXV mission page: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Launchers/IXV/Overview
ESA IXV spacecraft: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Launchers/IXV/IXV_spacecraft
VV04 mission information: http://www.arianespace.com/news-mission-update/2015/1255.asp
ESA IXV space plane on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ESA_IXV
Arianespace Homepage: http://www.arianespace.com
You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/arianespace
EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY (ESA) LINKS:
European Space Agency (ESA) homepage: http://www.esa.int/ESA
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+EuropeanSpaceAgency
You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ESA
SPACEPORT KOUROU & VEGA DATA LINKS:
Vega User’s Manual: http://www.arianespace.com/launch-services-vega/Vega-user’s-manual.asp
ESA Vega vehicle data page: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Launchers/Launch_vehicles/Vega
Vega SLV/ZLV Launch Site: http://www.arianespace.com/spaceport-vega/overview.asp
Spaceport French Guiana: http://www.arianespace.com/spaceport-intro/overview.asp