A vehicle resembling Russia’s Kliper has been selected to be studied under the European Space Agency’s Atmospheric Re-entry Experimental Vehicle (AREV) project. A scale model could be launched to 150km (93 miles) and would orbit once or twice before re-entering.

The AREV could fly on ESA’s Vega small launch vehicle from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana and land at the Woomera test range in Australia. Vega’s maiden flight is scheduled to take place in 2007. The AREV could also fly on a Russian Rockot launcher and then land in Kiruna, Sweden.

Kliper is a six-crew reusable spacecraft proposed by Moscow-based Energia. ESA is proposing to work with Russia’s Federal Space Agency to develop the Kliper as part of its Aurora long-term space exploration programme.

The final AREV selection was presented to ESA last month. “We expect to publish the AREV report’s executive summary soon,” says Federico Massobrio, a project manager with Alcatel Alenia Space, the company leading the study.

Source: Flight International