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European Space Agency develops reusable space vehicle

Mobility & Transport

The Space Rider could make scientific missions to space less expensive and more accessible

Spotted: The European Space Agency (ESA) has created a transportation vehicle that can operate as a laboratory and return to Earth. The Space Rider craft is a breakthrough for scientific studies because it is “reusable,” according to the ESA.

Space Rider is Europe’s first reusable space transportation vehicle,” Jose Longo, ESA’s Space Rider Development Programme Manager, said.

The Space Rider can carry payloads of up to 800 kg. Once in space, it can change position depending on the scientific mission. For instance, it can flip upside down if its mission is to study something on Earth. Or, it can fly further into space as needed. The Space Rider then operates as an “unscrewed” laboratory. When its mission is complete, the vehicle can re-launch into orbit and fly back to Earth.

It deploys a parachute when it returns to the Earth’s atmosphere and landing gear. Once its cargo has been removed, the vehicle can sent back to space on a different mission.

The ESA says the Space Rider will be a “shortcut” for non-space-based companies that want to perform experiments in space. The Space Rider has passed preliminary design reviews and is scheduled for a critical design review this year. The ESA plans to launch the vehicle in 2022.



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