IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) is an experimental space vehicle, whose mission consists of assessing the ability to carry out a controlled atmospheric re-entry from a low terrestrial orbit.

The vehicle has an unconventional conic shape, “lifting-body” type, and is characterized by high aerodynamics and maneuverability. It’s 5-meter long, 1.5-meter high, 2.2-meter large and weighs about 2 tons. It is equipped with a high-performance guidance, navigation and control system, which uses automatically-controlled mobile aerodynamic surfaces and is equipped with a ceramic thermal shield that shields the lower part and front “nose” of the vehicle from the high temperatures that develop while the vehicle crosses the terrestrial atmosphere.

IXV’s mission started with the on-board launch of the European Vega vector on February 11th, 2015, from the spaceport of Kourou, French Guyana. The vector crossed its upward equatorial trajectory and, at an altitude of 320 km, inserted the vehicle on its suborbital trajectory. Immediately afterwards, IXV went up to 413 km, and then started to descend to Earth, reaching a maximum speed of 7.5 km per second when entering the atmosphere.

In the meanwhile, the signal was gradually captured by the ground-based stations of Librevile and Malindi. After an about 20-minute blackout, the rescue ship received the signal from IXV. The module progressively increased its speed, until it opened – in succession – its 4 parachutes from an altitude of 30 km. Lastly, the vehicle carried out nominally a “splash down” in the Pacific Ocean – keeping afloat thanks to four floats – at about 4600 km off the shores of Colombia, slightly above the equator. Subsequently, Ixv was secured by an especially equipped rescue ship.

The data collected by IXV will be essential to develop and manufacture the future re-entry systems, designed to carry out different space activities such as the recovery of debris and the transportation of supplies and astronauts on the International Space Station.

The Cira, Italian Aerospace Research Centre, contributed to the launch of IXV by playing a role of responsibility in several critical activities such as design, development, test and integration. Furthermore, the Cira’s team coordinated the aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics and in-flight experimentation activities, by providing technical assistance to the Esa.

Based on the technologies experimented with IXV, the ESA is developing the Space Rider automated mini-shuttle.

‣ News

FRIDAY 05 AUGUST 2022

Sar Satellite data: the Italian Space Agency reshapes the costs for products acquired by the COSMO-SkyMed satellite constellation ‣

15 years of activity and great successes achieved since the launch of the first SAR satellite of the Italian constellation of  Earth observation that will be celebrated by ASI  providing free use of data for the Italian institutional user and cost reduction for the Institutional international user MORE...

FRIDAY 29 JULY 2022

PRISMA for extraction of Fire Severity Maps ‣

The prototypal processor “Fire Severity Map” was developed in the framework of the ASI-funded project “Sviluppo di Prodotti Iperspettrali Prototipali Evoluti MORE...

THURSDAY 28 JULY 2022

Send in your Hypergravity Experiment Ideas & Discuss it with ESA/OOSA ‣

Conduct your experiment at the Large Diameter Centrifuge Facility at ESTEC through the Access to Space for All-HyperGES  MORE...

THURSDAY 21 JULY 2022

ASTROSAMANTHA, THE FIRST EUROPEAN SPACEWALKER ‣

First extravehicular activity for Samantha Cristoforetti MORE...

TUESDAY 19 JULY 2022

AGILE, published the first article about the “New Year’s Burst” ‣

On Friday 15 July, the first detailed study on this "New Year's Burst" was published in the Astrophysical Journal, using data acquired by the AGILE satellite MORE...