Space Rider: the European Shuttle-Laboratory (Video)

The European Space Agency is building Space Rider, a drone-shuttle capable not only of carrying experiments into space, but also of getting them back to Earth. The last verification of the project is scheduled for the end of 2019, while the first flight is scheduled for 2022.

With a 1,200-liter cargo area, the shuttle can carry up to 800 kg of experiments that require microgravity or other conditions that are difficult to replicate on Earth. The main feature of Space Rider, however, is its reusability: this “shuttle” is designed to make at least 6 trips, each of which can be long months.

The start is made with a Vega C rocket (also currently under development), but once in orbit Space Rider can use its on-board engines to change the set-up and move in the direction required by the experiment of round. Meanwhile it is supplied with energy by the solar panels of AVUM +, or the last stage of the rocket.

The start is made with a Vega C rocket (also currently under development), but once in orbit Space Rider can use its on-board engines to change the set-up and move in the direction required by the experiment. Meanwhile it is refuelled with energy by the solar panels of AVUM + (located at last stage of the rocket).

At the end of the mission AVUM + slows down the convoy and then separates: it cannot in fact return to the earth intact and is destined to burn in the atmosphere. Space Rider instead has a heat shield and uses the friction of the air to its advantage to slow down. After moving from a hypersonic speed to a subsonic one, it deploys a parachute similar to a glider, which will land it horizontally, ready to return the experiments to companies or research institutes that commissioned the launch.


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