European space shuttle IXV returns
The European space shuttle IXV, the mini-space plane has finished its test flight and has come splashing down in the pacific ocean.
The shuttle few east and took a turn around the globe before landing in the Pacific Ocean, west of the Galapagos Islands. The spaceplane is wedge shaped and was designed to collect information on how the objects from space fall back to Earth.
Esa director general, Jean Jacques Dordain said, “It couldn’t have gone better. But the mission itself is not over because now it is necessary to analyse all the data gathered during the flight.” When the spacecraft re-entered earth’s atmosphere, it had a speed of about 7.5 km/s, escalating the temperature in the immediate surface to at least 1,700 C.
The trajectory was controlled by flaps and thrusters to make sure that it will fall back near a recovery ship. The Esa also used a parachute system to guide the spaceship to gently fall into the ocean and floatation balloons were also used to stop it from sinking to the bottom of the sea.
Esa project manager Giorgio Tumino said, “Europe is excellent at going to orbit; we have all the launchers, for example. We also have great knowhow in operating complex systems in orbit. But where we are a bit behind is in the knowledge of how to come back from orbit.”
He added that if the ship had gone close to the circle, i.e., to the orbit and stayed there and came back, it is important to master the next leg of this journey just as other nations that are engaged in space research do.