The first test flight of the space shuttle Space Rider is scheduled to take place in 2020
– News of December 5, 2017 –
The space shuttle Space Rider is due to be launched in 2021 thanks to the Vega C space rocket. It will offer Europe a completely independent way to conduct experiments in orbit, reminiscent of the shuttle X-37B Boeing. The space shuttle Space Rider will be largely automated and reusable several times. Its design is inspired by the experimental shuttle “IXV” (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) which had made a suborbital flight in February 2015. For Europe, it is a major advance because Europe knows how to send payloads in orbit since for a very long time, but it has difficulties in getting them back. The experimental space shuttle “IXV” has validated the control of the atmospheric return of a space shuttle.
Space Rider will be able to carry up to 800 kg of payload in low orbit, for periods of several months. It will be launched at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, and will return to Santa María, Azores. It could potentially be marketed by Arianespace if the market is promising. Space Rider’s preliminary design phase is expected to be completed by 2018. The space shuttle will continue its design until the first test flight in 2020.
ESA develops its reusable shuttle, the Space Rider
– News of July 4, 2017 —
ESA presented at the Paris Air Show its space shuttle project called Space Rider. Europe wants a way to conduct experiments in orbit and then bring them back to Earth. With this in mind, a budget of 32 million euros has been allocated for the development of such a concept. This funding goes to Thales Alenia Space and the Italian Space Research Center.
Space Rider should be a fully automatic reusable space shuttle. Very close to the Boeing X-37B, it would be able to carry a payload of 800 kilos to 1000 kilos to a low orbit at 400 km altitude, then to return automatically after a few months in space. But the European shuttle would be much smaller than the one of Boeing with an estimated length of 4 or 5 meters. It would also be launched by a new version of Vega, the light rocket of the European Space Agency.
Image by ESA website.Sources