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IXV: Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle. Re-entry Demonstrator
- Client: ESA with TAS-I as System Prime Contractor
- Country: Spain
- Start date: 2009
- Ending date: 2015
The IXV is an ESA reentry lifting body demonstrator built to verify in-flight the performance of critical re-entry technologies. The IXV was launched on February the 11th, 2015, aboard Europe’s Vega launcher.
SENER was the prime contractor of the Guidance, Navigation and Control system (GNC) and Flight Management subsystem. The industry team consisting of SENER, Elecnor-DEIMOS and GMV was fully responsible for the subsystem detailed design, development, validation and verification.
The IXV mission:
- The IXV is a lifting body having no wings with a lift to drag ratio of 0.7 in the hypersonic. It is 5 m long and weights almost 2 tons.
- The launcher VEGA injected the IXV at an altitude of 340 km into a sub-orbital equatorial elliptic orbit with a 5° inclination. It attained an altitude of around 413 km, allowing it to reach a speed of 7 km/s when entering the atmosphere at an altitude of 120 km which are representative conditions of a return mission from low orbit.
The IXV then performed a guided gliding reentry until reaching the conditions for the supersonic chute infl ation. Attitude control during this re-entry phase was carried out by a combination of moving aerodynamic surfaces (fl aps) and thrusters.
The supersonic chute was deployed about Mach 1.5 at an altitude of 25.5 km, shortly after which the descent phase of the fl ight begun with a 3 stages parachute system.
The fl ight terminated at splashdown in the Pacifi c Ocean, with a fl otation system maintaining IXV in conditions suitable for the ship recovery.
The Guidance, Navigation and Control system of IXV:
The IXV GNC and Flight Management subsystem is responsible for controlling the vehicle after separation from Launcher, and taking it to the desired location for parachute triggering.
The Flight Management function is scheduling the internal GNC functions operation according to the IXV fl ight phase and navigation estimates.
The Guidance function is responsible for keeping the vehicle on track during the flight to reach the desired location for parachute triggering providing the reference attitude to the control.
The Navigation function is based on linear acceleration and attitude measurements improved with GPS position and velocity updates and Drag Derived Altitude pseudo-measurements during the GPS blackout phase.
The flight Control function is using the thrusters to control the attitude around the three axes during the orbital phase and the yaw during the atmospheric re-entry; whereas fl aps are used to trim and control the vehicle on the longitudinal and lateral axes.
Selected sensors/actuators configuration:
- Four 400N thrusters and two aerodynamic flaps, located at the base of the vehicle.
- An Inertial Measurement Unit (MU) and a GPS Receiver.
- A Descent and Recovery System (DRS) composed by a set of parachutes, flotation and localization devices.
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