TThe European Space Agency (ESA) has signed contracts for its first reusable space transport system. Known as the Space Rider, it is a robotic laboratory the size of a pair of eight-seater minibuses.
ESA has signed two contracts. The first is for the delivery of the spacecraft by co-prime contractors: Thales Alenia Space Italy and Avio. The second covers the provision of the basic segment (the infrastructure needed to start and operate the Space Rider) by Italian co-prime contractors: Telespazio and Altec. The Space Rider is designed to launch on an ESA Vega-C rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, and will remain in orbit for about two months. It will carry up to 800kg of experiments and technology demonstrations in its 1,200-liter hold.
After the flight, it will land and land on a runway, either in Kourou or Santa Maria in the Azores. The experiments are then read and analyzed, and the spacecraft itself becomes ready for another flight. Pharmaceutical, medical and biological experiments are expected to be the main choices for the payload. Space Rider was approved at the Space19 + meeting in ESA’s 22 member countries in November 2019. Its first launch is expected in 2023.