Frascati, July 20, 2009 – The European Space Agency(ESA) and Thales Alenia Space have signed a contract for the development of theatmospheric re-entry test-bed EXPERT (EPERimental Re-entry Test-bed).
The main objectives of EXPERT are toobtain flight data associated with entry critical aerothermodynamic phenomena,to demonstrate re-entry technologies and to gain experience on development andflight of complex entry vehicles.
Thesmall-size, capsule-shaped vehicle will be launched by the Russian Volna andwill follow a sub-orbital ballistic trajectory with an entry speed of 5 km/sec atan altitude of 100 km, compatible with flight conditions which may bereproduced on-ground in the wind tunnels, allowing design methods verification.
The project, with Italy as maincontributor, is managed by the ESA Directorate of Human Spaceflights andsupported by the relevant ESA technical units.
ThalesAlenia Space will be responsible for the design consolidation, the developmentand the integration of the vehicle and will lead a consortium formed by majorEuropean industries and integrated with research centers and universities. TheEXPERT flight is planned by the end of 2010.
“We aredelighted that ESA has entrusted the EXPERT project to Thales Alenia Space”,commented Luigi Maria Quaglino, Thales Alenia Space Senior Vice President forInfrastructures and Transportation. “It is a fundamental step in theacquisition of critical technologies and collection of experimental datanecessary to prepare Space Exploration and other future applications. Such an assignment is a sign of the recognitionof the capability, the industrial credibility and the professionalism acquiredby our company in such high technological systems.”
About Thales Alenia Space
European leader in satellite systemsand a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales AleniaSpace is a joint venture betweenThales (67 %) and Finmeccanica (33 %). Along with Telespazio, Thales AleniaSpace forms a space alliance betweenthe two groups. The company today hasaffirmed itself as a global referencein theareas of telecommunications, radar and optical observation of theEarth, defence and security, navigation and sciences. Thales Alenia Space employs 7200 people on 11 industrial sites inFrance, Italy, Spain and Belgium.