European eXPErimental Re-entry Testbed

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European eXPErimental Re-entry Test-bed (EXPERT) is a European Space Agency aerothermodynamics research programme. It was planned that vehicle will be launched on a Russian Volna launch system and will provide knowledge and experience in the design and development of re-entry vehicles.[1] As of 2012, one element in a European Space Agency push to develop vehicles capable of re-entry has been pushed back until at least 2013 as the agency seeks a launch alternative to the Russian submarine-launched Volna rocket which was withdrawn.[2] One of its main goals was to test materials for ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV), an unmanned, delta-winged plane launched in 2015 aboard ESA’s new Vega small-satellite launcher.[3] Currently EXPERT remains in storage conditions in Turin.[4]

EXPERT Mission Objectives[edit]

According to an ESA-ESTEC paper,[5] the EXPERT program has the following goals:

  • Enable in-flight data gathering of selected aerothermodynamic phenomena with high accuracy and reliability
  • Allow the validation of numerical modeling tools (CFD) and of methodologies for ground-to-flight data extrapolation
  • Qualify in-flight classical and advanced measurement techniques
  • Conduct extensive post-flight analyses based on in-flight data, pre-flight numerical databases, preflight ground testing activities.


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