ESA awards 2010 EXPERT re-entry demonstrator vehicle contract

by | Jul 17, 2009 | ESA, Technology | 0 comments

The European Space Agency has just this minute released this information with an invite to media to attend the Thales Alenia Space Italy contract signing event – it is on Monday

Set for launch in 2010, the data collected by the European Experimental Reentry Testbed (EXPERT) will provide aero-thermodynamic tool validation on the basis of actual flight data for a number of physical phenomena encountered by space transportation vehicles during their re-entry phase in the Earth atmosphere. It will also improve the European competence in the atmospheric re-entry field and associated technologies.

Developing improved space transportation systems requires an increased confidence in the knowledge of such phenomena and a reduction of the design margins to increase system performance. The availability of detailed experimental data will allow the refinement of the aerodynamic and aero-thermodynamic models and project tools.

EXPERT is conceived to provide these data through a low cost in-flight experimentation.

The EXPERT vehicle consists of:

– a cold structure that hosts the avionic equipment and payload electronics,

– a thermal protection system, which is also a hot structure,

– power and data handling subsystems,

– a parachute system to ensure a soft landing of the vehicle,

– an inertial measurement unit.

The payload will entail a series of scientific flight measurement equipment, including classic and advanced techniques such as temperature, heat flux and pressure sensors, spectrometers and an infrared camera.

Such experiments are being developed in cooperation by ESA and a number of scientific institutes across Europe and represent the state of the art in this technology.

The EXPERT trajectory and re-entry velocity of 5 km/sec have been defined to achieve a flight environment compatible with the generation of the physical phenomena under study while matching the performance envelops of the European wind tunnels, thereby allowing a comparison of ground and flight data.

The measurements derived from the EXPERT mission and the design methodologies employed for its development will be of great help for the understanding of the aero-thermodynamics and the design of future European atmospheric re-entry missions, e.g. the Advanced Re-entry Vehicle (ARV).

The EXPERT development is conducted under the responsibility of the ESA Human Spaceflight Directorate by an integrated team including specialists from the ESA Directorate of Technical and Quality Management.

The contract will be signed by Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight, and Luigi Pasquali, President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italy, at ESA’s centre for Earth observation, ESRIN, in Frascati, Italy.

Presentations of the project and its objectives will be made by TAS-I and ESA experts.

You will find more detailled information on the Expert project through the following links:

http://www.esa.int/esaTQM/SEMNGZ4DHNF_mechanical_0.html

http://www.esa.int/esapub/bulletin/bullet114/chapter4_bul114.pdf

http://www.esa.int/esaHS/SEMJNO916XF_index_0.html

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