CIRA Italian Aerospace Research Center of Capua (NA) and Thales Alenia Space, Prime Contractor of the ESA Space Rider project, signed the contract last December for the construction of an important test for the verification of the descent, landing and autonomous driving systems of the European spacecraft.
Another important result that confirms the leading role of CIRA in the program for the construction of the European reusable space transport system. In fact, CIRA is already developing and manufacturing the entire thermal protection system of the shuttle in ISiComp® ceramic material for the same vehicle.
At the end of its mission in orbit and after having faced the very high temperatures of returning to the atmosphere, Space Rider will have to overcome an equally delicate phase: the final descent using a parafoil, a large wing controlled by an autonomous system that will slow down and guide the vehicle. until landing at a predetermined point with an accuracy of less than 150m.
This phase is so critical that it requires a severe verification process that will be implemented by carrying out a helicopter release test of a full-scale prototype of Space Rider, equipped with all on-board systems.
Thanks to the experience gained with the USV program and with the Drop Test of the European vehicle IXV, CIRA is at the head of a supply chain that sees as main players: INCAS, the Romanian aerospace research institute, which is in charge of the construction of the structure of the prototype and the procurement of the test site; and DEIMOS for mission analysis activities.
In addition to project management and the coordination of industrial partners, CIRA is in charge of the design and implementation of the entire avionics system and of the mission management software and on-board sensors. Furthermore, all the operations to integrate the flight subsystems into the vehicle structure will be carried out at CIRA. At the end of the integrated system verification operations, the prototype will be transported to the test site in Romania.
The test will allow to verify in an operational scenario and with a prototype fully representative of the re-entry vehicle, the critical aspects of the terminal phase of the mission and to collect valuable information that will allow the final development of the Space Rider before the inaugural mission scheduled for the end of 2023.