Unmanned Space Vehicle-X, one of three precursors to possible European venture, is scheduled to fly in 2010

Italian aerospace agency CIRA has released images of its €100 million ($120 million) Unmanned Space Vehicle-Experimental (USV-X) re-entry vehicle, to fly in 2010. The USV-X will be launched on a suborbital trajectory on the European Space Agency’s Vega launcher or an Indian booster.


Vega’s maiden flight is expected in 2007 from ESA’s former Ariane 1 launch pad in French Guiana. As well as collaboration talks with India, CIRA is discussing co-operation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The Japanese could provide the USV-X’s thermal protection system.

“USV-X is essentially the only project of its kind that is fully financed,” says CIRA’s head of space Dr Gennaro Russo. Other European re-entry projects are ESA’s European Experimental Re-entry Testbed and France’s Pre-X vehicle. All three are precursors to a possible European reusable launch vehicle.

The €100 million cost of the USV-X project is for building two vehicles and does not cover the cost of the launch. CIRA is to test fly its precursor USV early next year by dropping it from a stratospheric balloon. The first of two USVs, called Flight Test Bed (FTB)-1, was delivered to CIRA last month by its manufacturer Carlo Gavazzi Space.


Source: Flight International