Spaceflight Insider

IXV Experimental Spaceplane

The roughly 16 foot (5 meter) long Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) space plane was launched from the Kourou Space Centre located in French Guiana on February 11, 2015 at 1340 GMT. The test article flew atop a Vega launch vehicle, separating from the booster at an altitude of 211 miles (340 kilometers). The spacecraft continued on to an altitude of some 256 miles (412 kilometers) and incorporated some 300 sensors which acquired flight data which scientists and engineers hope will be used for future spacecraft. Mission Control Centre was situated at the ALTEC Advanced Logistics Technology Engineering Centre located in Turin, Italy. The spaceplane deployed its parachutes and safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, from there, balloons were used to keep the spaceplane afloat while the crew on the recovery worked to recover it. After retrieval, it was taken to ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. Photos courtesy of Jacques van Oene