Experimental vehicle

Thales Alenia Space is to proceed with the development of the IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) for the European Space Agency (ESA).


Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales and Finmeccanica, is to proceed with the development of the IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) for the European Space Agency (ESA).


The IXV is a re-entry vehicle intended to validate European reusable launchers.


It uses a lifting body arrangement with no wings of any sort; it uses two moveable flaps to control its re-entry flight.


Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for the design consolidation, development and integration of the vehicle and will lead a consortium formed by major European companies, research centres and universities.


The vehicle itself is scheduled to be delivered to ESA by the end of 2012.


It will be launched in 2012 from Europe’s spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, using the Vega small launch vehicle, an expendable launch system developed by the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.


After re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere and being slowed down by air drag, the IXV will descend by parachute and land in the Pacific Ocean to await recovery and post-flight analysis.