IXV re-entry vehicle, illustration

IXV re-entry vehicle, illustration

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Credit: ESA-J.Huart/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: IXV re-entry vehicle. Computer illustration of the IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) spacecraft descending back to Earth on a parachute. This spacecraft is planned by the European Space Agency (ESA) for launch on a Vega rocket in 2015. Following launch, it will be deployed in Earth orbit from where it will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. The IXV is a testing system, not intended to be crewed and only 4.4 metres in length. It has no wings, but uses two flaps on its lower rear edge to control re-entry. Once re-entry has been achieved, parachutes are deployed to slow its descent.

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