Feb 04 2015

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ESA’s IXV will splash down in the Pacific to conclude test flight. OK, I admit I haven’t been focused on the IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) — it’s a government project, and it’s not even a US govt project. It’s invariably described as ESA’s spaceplane, which in my mind meant something like SNC’s Dream Chaser or XCOR’s Lynx or the X-37B…you know, something with wings that will land on a runway like the Space Shuttle or…er…a space PLANE.

So when I saw this graphic in the linked article:

I thought, “Why in the world aren’t they landing it somewhere instead of splashing it in the salty waters of the Pacific?”

Then I saw a picture of the IXV:

Sorry…if it doesn’t have wings and it re-enters the atmosphere, it’s a capsule not a plane. Why the heck is ESA calling this a plane?

I get why ESA is excited about this, since it’s their first attempt at a re-entry vehicle, and that’s pretty exciting. But it certainly isn’t a spaceplane.

Thus concludes this PSA.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/02/04/wait-whut/

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