ARD test flight sequence, artwork

ARD test flight sequence, artwork

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Credit: DAVID DUCROS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: ARD test flight sequence. The Atmospheric Re-entry Demonstrator (ARD) was an unmanned European Space Agency capsule designed to test re-entry technologies. It was launched from the Guiana Space Centre (left) on an Ariane 5 rocket (upper left) on 21 October 1998, and after release attained an altitude of 830 kilometres (upper centre). As it fell back to Earth it re-entered the atmosphere using first its heat shield, and then parachutes (upper right), to achieve a safe landing in the Pacific Ocean (right). The flight (orange dotted line) took 101 minutes. The ARD was built by the French company Aerospatiale (now part of EADS).

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