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Space

ESA Unveils Re-Entry Module 101

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the isn't-that-exciting dept.
bmcage writes "The ESA unveiled the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, a real re-entry vehicle. Although it will not be reused, it has a better geometry than NASA's Orion or the Russian Soyuz, giving better lift, and control. This is not done by the addition of useless wings, but by using two brakes. Finally a departure from the Apollo design that is actually better?"
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ESA Unveils Re-Entry Module

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  • by vally_manea (911530) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:00AM (#25641281) Homepage
    You're somehow assuming that bureaucracy and lack of imminent funding won't affect Rusia, China and American private companies...As far as I understood it Russia's space program is severely under-funded and China's most optimist schedule is man in space in 2012 so maybe it's not that bad.
  • Re:Thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prgrmr (568806) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:08AM (#25641539) Journal
    There also doesn't appear to be any redundancy, which has long been a design contention in the US and Russian schools of thoughts. I don't know where the ESA is, philosophically, on this issue. But, the absense of thrusters in the nose leaves few options if the brakes fail or are damaged.
  • by confused one (671304) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:19AM (#25641855)

    Frankly the Shuttle was an attempt to jump from the Wright Flyer to a 707. We really needed to build a Ford Trimotor and a DC-3 first.

    apt summary. Now that we have the Shuttle experience, however, can we skip the Trimotor and go for the DC-3. They were pretty damn reliable and some are still in use today...

  • Re:Thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YA_Python_dev (885173) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @01:17PM (#25645003) Journal

    There also doesn't appear to be any redundancy, which has long been a design contention in the US and Russian schools of thoughts. I don't know where the ESA is, philosophically, on this issue.

    This is easy: ESA has designed and is building and flying the most redundant and fault-tolerant unmanned spacecraft ever seen on this small planet: the ATV [esa.int].

    In an extreme case these things are able of successfully completing their missions with half of the solar panels and fuel tanks and 2/3 of everything else (including computers, antennas, sensors, fuel lines, thrusters, actuators, electrical lines, etc...) completely damaged. Of course this is theoretical, since they would abort the mission in these circumstances, to keep the ISS safe. But still as demonstrated by the first ATV, the Jules Verne, they can successfully complete a mission with any single failure in any subsystem except the main fuel tanks.

    But, the absense of thrusters in the nose leaves few options if the brakes fail or are damaged.

    Hmm... I'm not a rocket scientist, but you seem to know even less than me about this. Anyway this is only a technology demonstrator and one-time test.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @05:05PM (#25649369) Homepage

    You should also add that air launch is inherently reusable, that its cost is dramatically lower, that the carrier vehicle does not degrade in operation and could be ready for the next launch immediately, that in the event of post-detach launch failure the carrier provides observer and pursuit capability without extra air deployments, and possibly most important, that most of the dense atmospheric stresses are bypassed so everything can be lighter.

    None of these things are proven, and most of them depend on the details of the system chosen.

    Air launch does have some significant advantages, though; most notably in the way of range safety: you don't light the rocket until you're in a clear space, well away from ground assets.

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