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IXV launch spotlights joint French-Italian research efforts

The French and Italian research ministers, Geneviève Fioraso and Stefania Giannini, will watch the launch of Europe's reentry demonstrator from Thales Alenia Space's Turin plant

Turin, February 11, 2015 – Europe's IXV atmospheric reentry demonstrator is ready for launch from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. Meanwhile, at the mission control center in Turin, operated by Altec, the French and Italian education and research ministers, Geneviève Fioraso and Stefania Giannini, respectively, will watch the launch live.

Thales Alenia Space is the prime contractor for this European Space Agency (ESA) program, leading a consortium of European companies, research centers and universities. Italy plays a lead role in this program, with strong support from the Italian space agency, ASI.

The IXV project is designed to develop an autonomous atmospheric reentry system for Europe, and also validate the enabling technologies needed to meet his challenge. The mission will last about 1 hour and 40 minutes, finishing with a parachute descent and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, where the IXV capsule will be immediately recovered by a specially outfitted ship.

"We are very honored to be welcoming the French and Italian ministers to our plant and ALTEC's premises," said Jean-Loïc Galle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Thales Alenia Space. "I would like to personally thank them for being with us here today, and for supporting the space industries. The Turin plant is one of our company's crown jewels, especially for the development of the special technologies needed for automated missions to the Moon or Mars, as well as activities linked to the International Space Station and for manned or unmanned atmospheric reentry systems."

"With this mission, France and Europe confirm their excellence in space exploration, one of the major challenges facing us in the years ahead," said Geneviève Fioraso, French Minister of Higher Education and Research. "We are addressing scientific, technological and strategic challenges, along with the question of French and European sovereignty. At the same time, these scientific projects make us dream, illuminate our research on the origins of the Universe, and inspire young people to choose scientific and technical careers, areas where we lack human resources. To meet all these challenges, we have to develop expertise in the enabling technologies, and especially those needed by a manned or unmanned spacecraft to return safely to Earth. What I saw today at Thales Alenia Space's plant in Turin, along with my Italian counterpart Stefania Giannini, shows that Europe has what it takes to meet these exciting challenges."

“Italy is the great protagonist of the launch of the European atmospheric reentry demonstrator IXV, developed by Thales Alenia Space on behalf of the European Space Agency with the technical-scientific contribution of the Italian Space Agency, CIRA (Italian Aerospace Research Center) and Italian Universities,” said Stefania Giannini Italian Minister of Instruction, University and Research. “I am proud of this new step in Italy’s space adventure, which demonstrates Italian excellence in this sector”.

The data collected during this mission will make an unprecedented contribution to the development of upcoming generations of space transport systems entailing an atmospheric reentry phase. In addition to its status as a flagship of innovation, the IXV program is also an exceptional adventure both in space and at sea.

About Thales Alenia Space
Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%), is a key European player in space telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, exploration and orbital infrastructures. Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio form the two parent companies' “Space Alliance”, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Because of its unrivaled expertise in dual (civil/military) missions, constellations, flexible payloads, altimetry, meteorology and high-resolution optical and radar instruments, Thales Alenia Space is the natural partner to countries that want to expand their space program. The company posted consolidated revenues in excess of 2 billion euros in 2013, and has 7,500 employees in six countries.

Thales Alenia Space Press Contacts:

Sandrine Bielecki    
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

Chrystelle Dugimont
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 74 06

Tiziana Ebano    
Tel: +39 06 4151 2574


Sandrine Bielecki
+33 (0)4 92 92 70 94
Press Officer - Chrystelle Dugimont
+33 (0)4 92 92 74 06
Italy Press Officer - Tiziana Ebano
+39 06 4151 2574