European Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space sign a contract for the development of EXPERT


Frascati, July 20, 2009 – The European Space Agency (ESA) and Thales Alenia Space have signed a contract for the development of the atmospheric re-entry test-bed EXPERT (EPERimental Re-entry Test-bed).


The main objectives of EXPERT are to obtain flight data associated with entry critical aerothermodynamic phenomena, to demonstrate re-entry technologies and to gain experience on development and flight of complex entry vehicles.


The small-size, capsule-shaped vehicle will be launched by the Russian Volna and will follow a sub-orbital ballistic trajectory with an entry speed of 5 km/sec at an altitude of 100 km, compatible with flight conditions which may be reproduced on-ground in the wind tunnels, allowing design methods verification.


The project, with Italy as main contributor, is managed by the ESA Directorate of Human Spaceflights and supported by the relevant ESA technical units.

Thales Alenia Space will be responsible for the design consolidation, the development and the integration of the vehicle and will lead a consortium formed by major European industries and integrated with research centers and universities. The EXPERT flight is planned by the end of 2010.

“We are delighted that ESA has entrusted the EXPERT project to Thales Alenia Space”, commented Luigi Maria Quaglino, Thales Alenia Space Senior Vice President for Infrastructures and Transportation. “It is a fundamental step in the acquisition of critical technologies and collection of experimental data necessary to prepare Space Exploration and other future applications.  Such an assignment is a sign of the recognition of the capability, the industrial credibility and the professionalism acquired by our company in such high technological systems.”

About Thales Alenia Space
European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67 %) and Finmeccanica (33 %). Along with Telespazio, Thales Alenia Space forms a space alliance between the two groups. The company today has affirmed itself as a global reference in the areas of telecommunications, radar and optical observation of the Earth, defence and security, navigation and sciences. Thales Alenia Space employs 7200 people on 11 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.